WHILE the Red Cross celebrates its centenary this year, there are three local women who epitomise long service.
Coralie Woolley joined the Pyree branch in 1946 and then joined Nowra, Dot Galley joined the Nowra branch 48 years ago and Zena Apps joined Goulburn Red Cross in 1969 and came to Nowra in 1985.
Between them, they have accumulated a joint total of 161 years of service to the charity.
Mrs Woolley has been donating her time and efforts to the cause for an amazing 68 years.
She has now retired from the shop work but still tries to get to the meetings.
She was treasurer at Pyree and has lost count of the number of cakes she has baked to sell at bazaars.
Dot Galley started off coming along to meetings with her mother and decided to join up. She has been with the Nowra branch for 48 years. “I’d bring Mum over on a Thursday morning and I’ve still got all of her badges.
“We have a good team here [at the op shop]. We have our regular clients who come in, there’s one lady who comes in every day and we worry about her if she doesn’t turn up,” Ms Galley said.
Zena Apps was the president over two terms, the first from 1986 to 1989 and then 1994 to 1995.
Zena is now the patron of the branch.
“I had a very close friend in Goulburn who encouraged me to join, and I’ve been involved ever since.
“I was very young when I joined but I’m an old bird now,” Ms Apps laughed.
The Nowra branch will celebrate the centenary on August 14 with a special event at the Wesley Centre. There will be stalls, a morning tea by gold coin donation and a display of Red Cross memorabilia.
The money raised through the local op shop and members’ efforts goes to an amazing array of causes. While some goes to support disaster relief, both in Australia and around the world, the money also helps a large range of local schemes. These include supporting Telecross (matching a person to an elderly or infirm person to make a phone call in the morning to make sure they are ok), a young parents program (teaching parenting basics), a driving course for school students and a home visitors scheme.
For many of the women and men who volunteer, the op shop has become like a second home.
“I’d be lost if I didn’t have the shop to come to,” Ms Apps said.
“We all look forward to coming on our days, everyone works one day a week,” Ms Galley added.
“I’ve got a lady who works with me and she is 96 now. Every week she will say, ‘That’s it, I’m retiring after today’ but by the end of her shift she will have changed her mind.
“It is a lifeline for a lot of people, they find a purpose and they can make a world of difference to people’s lives,” Ms Galley said.