News & Events

Elaine’s weekly dose of kindness

August 17, 2016

Leith Park volunteer Elaine Maker

Elaine Maker would happily recommend Leith Park to anyone and she knows the place inside and out. She visited her parents most days for 10 years, before her mother and then her father died, and she now volunteers there once a week, visiting people who are lonely or who need to be driven to medical or other appointments. Elaine’s services are also called upon sometimes in the office to help with printing and collating, so she knows a lot about the place – and she loves it.

Having lived in, or near, St Helena for most of her life Elaine, 58, loves the setting of Leith Park surrounded by trees and gardens. In fact her father was a keen gardener and planted many of the flowers around the entrance to Leith Park before he died two and a half years ago.

Her volunteering began as a driver for the Austin Hospital, taking people to and from hospital appointments two mornings each week. She was so moved by the kindness and care shown to her father at the Austin that she decided to volunteer after his death and give something back to the community.

Now each Thursday Elaine comes to Leith Park and has a regular round of people she visits, mostly people who have few other social contacts or visitors. Recently, one of the elderly women she visited died. It was a difficult Thursday that week but Elaine continued with her visits making sure she added a bit of fun and companionship too the people who have come to rely on her. After visiting in the morning she joins a regular group of 5 or 6 residents for a Scrabble game. If someone is not in, she has time to do other jobs that might need doing in the office.

One of her current projects with residents is collating their family information and putting it into a small booklet for them. She has done eight and there’s a long list of people waiting to serve her a cuppa, sit with her and share their stories.

“Some people don’t have families to visit them and they love to sit and chat. I try and brighten up their day a bit. It makes them feel good and it does the same for me,” Elaine said.

“The lady who died this week couldn’t remember a lot of things about her past so I didn’t do her family history. But she was lovely and it made her really happy when I took in a small gift for her birthday.”

“Those moments make you realise how very easy it is to be kind to someone and to help make their life a bit happier.”

Volunteering was ‘bred’ into Elaine, growing up in a family where the children were taught that it is a far better thing to give something to someone than to receive something. It’s an idea she holds dear.

“Being kind takes nothing out of my day does it? Yet it can mean so much to someone.”

"I love the fact that Rushall Park residents and volunteers are so active – contributing to life in the village. The sense of the community is strong which is why I put my name on the waiting list" - Maggie Birkett.

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