"I enjoyed every moment."
That's how long-time Macquarie Care Centre Auxiliary president Beverley Stuart looked back on her time with the group as it held its final get-together recently.
Having been disrupted by the COVID years, and finding it difficult to attract new members, the auxiliary has been wound up just a year before it was due to reach its 60th anniversary.
Mrs Stuart, who had the president's role for more than 30 years, said she was sad about the end of an era but proud of all that had been achieved for the residents of Macquarie Care Centre and its earlier incarnations.
"It [the end of the auxiliary] is part of my life going," she said.
Through fundraisers including raffles, mystery trips and (in the early days) a kiosk, the auxiliary aimed to fund purchases to increase the comfort and wellbeing of the centre's residents.
"Up until all this trouble started [COVID], we were raising about $24,000 a year for them and they [the centre] were always spending it on things that were badly needed," Mrs Stuart said.
"Years and years ago, I remember we bought everyone in the homes a pair of pyjamas.
"We bought things that the government didn't supply - nice little things.
"For years, we supplied lollies for their bingo every week as prizes. And that was very important because they loved their bingo. And loved a few little somethings to chew that night.
"I've really had a wonderful time with the auxiliary. I look on them all as my friends and nothing seems to be a chore.
"And I think most of our members feel that way."
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The auxiliary formed in 1963 and Mrs Stuart got involved in the mid-1980s.
"My mother was a resident at Macquarie Care for a lot of years and, when she died, I just thought it was too good a place to leave and [I wanted] to stop and help them," she said. "So I have."
Many modern community organisations find it difficult to attract new members willing to give their time, but Mrs Stuart said the benefits of volunteering were numerous.
"It gives you friendship and you know you're doing something that's important," she said. "And a purpose. I used to look forward to it all the time."
Former Macquarie Care Centre residential manager Sharyn Ryan, who retired from the job in August 2020, saw the auxiliary members' dedication up close over many years.
"No matter what I asked for, they would provide for the residents," she said.
"I spoke to them one day and I had a list and I said if I took everything away out of the centre that they had provided, it would be bare; really bare. You would just have your hospital beds and that would be it.
"Every [auxiliary] meeting I would go to, I would ask for something and every hand would be up.
"I have watched these women, in their 70s and 80s, toil, run fetes - just an incredible workload. Ninety-odd-year-olds running barbecues: so committed.
"So, all the residents that were there from 1963, when the auxiliary started, their lives were absolutely enhanced by what this auxiliary has provided for them.
"And the support they gave me, over those years, was incredible.
"Not only did they provide money, but they also came in and they did activities with the residents, they did grooming for the residents - nails, knitting.
"The bingo was run by them, they provided all the housie prizes. It was week to week.
"They added all that layer you never get funding for. They were absolutely indispensable."
She said it was the auxiliary members' "dedication, absolute dedication" that she would always remember.
"I'm in awe of their work and what they've done," she said. "I really am."
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