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Age no barrier for loyal volunteers

15 June 2016

Age no barrier for loyal volunteers

Caption: Between them, Edith Holland (left) and Gladys Kidd have clocked up 60 years of volunteering at Family Stores' in Sydney's north.

There are many tireless volunteers in The Salvation Army, but 98-year-old Gladys Kidd could be one of the most inspirational. Every Friday she drives 30 minutes through heavy traffic from her home in Sydney’s north to the Army’s Family Store in Gordon. She has tallied up more than 33 years of Family Store volunteering, 30 at the Chatswood store and the past three years at Gordon.

Then there is 85-year-old Edith Holland, who also volunteers at the Gordon store, two days a week. She has been volunteering at Chatswood and Gordon stores for well over 20 years. “I get so much more from volunteering than I put in,” says Edith, who sorts clothes, prices books and other items, and occasionally serves customers. “I meet so many nice people, I enjoy working with people, and I’ve learned that you can’t always judge people by what they look like.”

Gladys agrees. “I enjoy the company, meeting people and working with the lovely team here,” she said. “I meet some really nice people and it’s so fulfilling. I feel sorry for people who don’t do volunteering. I started volunteering after I had been with a friend trying to buy Christmas cards and we’d gone into a Salvos store to see if they had any. There was a sign on the door that volunteers were wanted. My last child had left school and I had time to do something extra, so I started.”

Driving through Sydney’s busy upper north shore traffic from her home in Normanhurst, Gladys gets straight into her voluntary work each Friday, sorting clothes and bric-a-brac and helping to make the store look neat and tidy. “When I first started at the original Chatswood shop 33 years ago it was just clothing, and then other things started coming in,” Gladys explains. “Now it includes furniture, books, china, toys – it just grew and we grew with it.”

The work of the Red Shield Defence Services first attracted Gladys to The Salvation Army. “I became interested when all the boys came back from the war and said the Sallies were always there with a cuppa – before, during and after the war. So I guess I’ve been Sallie-minded since then.”

Geoff Cooper, group manager of Gordon, Chatswood, Crows Nest and Neutral Bay stores, appreciates the contribution Gladys and Edith make. “Gladys is a very independent person, very faithful and is always here unless she is unwell,” he says. “She is a fantastic person and just gets into her work doing what needs to be done. She mainly does jobs now in the back room where she can sit down, but works until her job is done!”

Geoff describes Edith as a “dynamo” who until recently didn’t even sit down for a lunch break. “She is passionate about her work, keeps us environmentally friendly and is an extremely loyal person. I try to foster a sense of community in the store, link them where possible to the Chatswood Corps, organise social outings and encourage our volunteers to connect with people. Gladys and Edith are both community-minded and a pleasure to have as part of our family.”

By Simone Worthing

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