FINDING PURPOSE AND CONNECTION THROUGH VOLUNTEERING
“It’s a win-win situation.”
Giving back to the community is a way of life for MSWA volunteer of five years, Joan Crossman.
Dedicating her time as an MSWA Wilson Outreach activity assistant on Tuesdays, fundraising for the Cancer Council Relay For Life event and altering costumes for Ballroom Fit chair dancers in between; Joan is one busy lady.
“I really don’t know how I ever had time to go to work!” Joan laughed.
It is this passion to give back which saw Joan nominated for the WA Volunteer of the Year Awards 2023.
Joan first came to MSWA Wilson Outreach supporting her late friend, Jenny, who lived with MS. The pair made fond memories of visiting the centre, where Jenny was known for her love of puzzles.
“On Jenny’s jigsaw puzzle it would have ‘this is Jenny’s, do not touch’,” Joan recalled fondly.
“Her last puzzle I tried to finish for her, but only managed a couple of pieces. A friend in my village offered to help and two days later he had finished it.”
“So, we had it framed and there it is up on the wall [in the Wilson Atrium] – how special is that?”
“At Jenny’s memorial service, I was privileged to give one of the ‘memories of Jenny’ of all the times we spent here together at Outreach.”
It is these special memories made within the walls of MSWA Wilson and connections forged over the years that convinced Joan to sign up as a volunteer in April 2017. The determination and effort of MSWA’s Clients inspires Joan each day and she finds great joy in their successes.
“The Clients put so much effort into what you and I might find simple,” she said.
“When they do something well, it is such a thrill. It might be when we are doing our exercises, maybe they can lift a slightly heavier weight.”
“The only rule is that they have to leave the group with a smile on their face, and they do, because they have given it their all.”
“It’s a win-win situation for me.”
Joan’s volunteering career started back in 1965, when she and her husband Rodger moved from New Zealand to Dowerin, in the West Australian wheatbelt.
It was here that Joan helped to revolutionise the volunteering system for the Dowerin Field Day Catering Committee, bringing about greater collaboration between community groups helping to cater for the major event.
"Cunderdin one year booked in so many volunteer hours, they ended up paying for the air-conditioning in their school from the catering profits,” she said.
“It was a real ‘everybody working together’ attitude.”
“For me, the meaning of team is ‘Together Everyone Achieves Most’.”
For Joan, this is the aspect of volunteering that most attracts her – the opportunity to be involved in the community, work together and give back.
“It helped me, because when we first came out to Australia, we didn’t have any family here. Through volunteering I was able to make new bonds and connections,” she said.
“We all age differently, but volunteering gives you a purpose and a belief, so you are not just sitting on the veranda whiling away the time.”
From all of us here at MSWA, we thank you, Joan, for your ongoing dedication to our Clients.