Stanislaw (Stan) Chrzanowski
When Stanislaw (Stan) Chrzanowski became a member of Eastern Bay Villages in mid 2017 he said he wanted to record his story of escaping from Poland in the war. Another member, Ed Reid, is keen to listen to stories of the war and had recording equipment. Over a few weeks they recorded four hours of conversations.
Much to Stan’s delight, when Ed visited he brought his dog, Sam. Dogs had been very important in Stan’s life but he no longer had a dog as he could not walk one. In the spirit of reciprocity, members are encouraged to support one another, so Ruth Gerzon started to talk to Stan about how he might support another dog owner who is working by providing ‘doggy day care’.
Sadly just when he was coming round to the idea he died at the end of 2017, before this option could be pursued. But at least we were able to provide the family with the hours of audiotape and some lovely photos of their Dad.
Thank you, Stan. You will go down in the history of our organisation as the first Foundation member we supported.
Terry is a musician and entertainer. He made a special bicycle trailer for his instruments so he could play his ukulele in rest homes. No longer able to ride a bicycle, he needed a mobility scooter to continue to get out and about and delight seniors in our community.
He was referred to us by another member who saw that the paperwork needed was getting him down. Helen Payne, a member with a long history of advocacy and funding applications offered her support. She brought her laptop over to help Terry fill in the forms and approach people who could provide the right kind of supporting letters.
Terry said: “I’m so grateful. I couldn’t get my head around it. Helen made it so much easier. I’ll be able to be more independent and still be involved in the community.” Fingers crossed, Terry will soon be mobile again and people in rest homes will benefit from his musical skills. Now Terry is mobile again and seniors are enjoying his musical skills.
Photo top right: Foundation member, Helen Payne supported Terry to get funding for a mobility scooter. Terry made some changes so it could also carry his ukeleles and sound system.
Photo bottom right: Terry, an accomplished musician, now entertains seniors around town
Vic’s Homeshare Story
Vic Brough was looking for someone to share his three bedroom home and for some money to help pay off his mortgage. He also wanted a ‘reason to get out of bed in the morning’. Together we developed a homeshare agreement and offered to support him with interviews, police and reference checks. We searched through our networks and came up with a good match – Anatasha Valentine. Ana, is a positive person, full of energy and keen to learn new skills and build new networks. She has a mild learning disability and wanted to move from the country to town to become more independent. Vic and Ana enjoy each other’s company. Meanwhile Vic found many ways to support other members, small maintenance jobs, giving people lifts. His problem now is not that he needs more reasons to get out of bed, but he may not have time to go to bed.
Photo: Vic and Ana
This story, written by an EBV member, John McCoy, shows just how important friendships are as we age. It shows how a woman who contributed much to the community became lonely and depressed as she aged. A regular visitor and the friendship they developed made a really positive difference in her later life. There are many people in our community who would benefit from this support.
The following is a true story, the names and location have been changed to protect June’s identity.
About four years ago I decided that I wanted to become a volunteer and I approached “Age Concern” in a Provincial City and offered my services as an accredited visitor. I was allocated to be a visitor for June, who was a 94 year old, widowed, English born lady. June had requested a male visitor as she had female friends who visited now and again.
I found June to be a tiny lady who was deaf and legally blind, due to macular degeneration she could only see slightly through the side of one eye. She lived alone and did her own shopping, and managed with her carer who called in for an hour daily. We found we had something in common as we’d both been born in England and had lived through the 2nd World War. She was born in 1920 but shared the same birthday as my daughter. June was a lonely and depressed person who had previously lead an active life. She had been a girl guide leader, active members of both the SPCA and RSA, and had worked in a number of local charity shops. During her working life she had worked as clothing worker in Oxford Street London, been a secretary for the last of the Romanvofs in a wine business, and been a farmer’s wife. She had a room set up as a sewing room and right to the end of her life despite her loss of sight could still use a sewing machine.
I began to visit June every Monday afternoon, at first for an hour, but gradually this increased to 3 hours or more. I found that she had a wonderful memory and gradually she began telling me about her school life in the 1920’s. I went onto google and contacted her school, and a class there wrote back to June and asked her all about her school days. We spent an afternoon answering their questions and sent them back to her school in England. June was thrilled with this exercise and she started reminiscing and remembering lines from poems from her school days. I would then google the line and if I could find the poem, I would play it on YouTube for her. From then on, our Monday afternoons would become her memory time and we began finding songs from her younger days, which I would play for her or type out the words. Her favourite song was “The Old Lamplighter” and an iconic song for her was “I’ll Walk Beside You” by John McCormack – which was the song played at her wedding in 1947. Gradually, between visits June would try and think up songs to try and trick me to see if I could find them on my phone. June was largely ignored by her family, she had 25 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild, but she told me that she had only ever been visited by one of them. Her sons would visit now and again and one of them, when the mood took him, would shout and bully her. My wife visited her once and found her locked in the bathroom, she had locked herself in there when her son had come and began arguing with her. I spoke with a lady at June’s funeral and she told me that she had also found June locked in the bathroom after a similar situation.
Now and then I would take June on her errands, usually to the Post Office, where she would draw her pension out as cash because she would not use her eftpos card. She had $20 weekly taken out and put into what she called her ‘funeral account’ so that she would not be beholding her family when she passed. Once a month my wife and I took her to Age Concern meetings and she also went to monthly Probus meetings. June and I became great friends and she would often ring me up between visits for a chat. Towards the latter half of 2018, June became very frail and began having falls and developed shingles. She would not agree to going into a nursing home as she determined that she would leave her home to her three children. Halfway through 2018 my wife and I decided to move away and go back to live in Whakatane. June was heartbroken and Gloria and I were upset as well, but we promised to keep in touch by phone. We would phone each other frequently and I would play her favourite songs to her through the phone. I last heard from June early 2019 when she called me in tears to tell me that her younger sister (94) had cancer and had only days to live. June used to phone her in England every week and talk to her for two hours, she was heartbroken and said it was wrong that her younger sister would die before her. This was the last time I spoke with her, a day or so later her daughter phoned me and told me that June was in a coma in hospital. My wife and I went to the hospital but were told to ring June’s family, June had died and just before her sister in England.
June would have been 99 this year. Gloria and I attended her funeral and the chapel was overflowing with people from the organisations that she belonged to. Both my wife and I will never forget June, she made a huge impression on us with her attitude to life and her humility and humour. We have a picture of June in a prominent place in our home and see her every day and often have a word or two with her. June, I am a better person for having known you.