Depth of care grows from pain
9 September 2013
“No matter where or what part of the socio-economic level you come from, you just don’t know what tomorrow may bring. I never imagined in my wildest nightmares that I would end up in a situation like I did.” – Carol
She has faced almost unimaginable loss over the years including the death of two of her children, and yet Salvation Army volunteer Carol stresses again and again how deeply privileged she now is to be able to help others.
Carol recently chose to share some of her experiences for the 2013 Red Shield Appeal launch in Cairns (Qld) and made an impassioned plea to donors to continue their much needed support.
“I have seen so many people that are absolutely literally on the bones of their bottoms with nothing and The Salvation Army, through donations, were able to help them with food, clothing, a roof over their heads,” she says.
Carol knows about this type of help first-hand, not only as a volunteer, but also as a recipient. “If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army and the beautiful people there who dedicate their lives to helping others, I think we would (all) be in real trouble,” she says.
During a 35-year career in administration, and while raising four daughters, Carol (who is now a grandmother and great-grandmother) says she always tried to help others. She served for years as the District Chairman of the National Council of Women, and has chaired Inner Wheel (linked to Rotary).
She has worked with children with special needs for many years and continues to do so. However, her life has also been filled with heartbreak.
Her youngest daughter died from an undiagnosed brain tumour, just weeks after her 16th birthday. Then, five years later, her 27-year-old daughter died of a heroin overdose. “She (her older daughter) never got over her sister’s death,” says Carol. “Recently my third daughter has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.”
Carol herself suffers from a range of serious health issues, and also has responsibility for her husband’s care.
“I have a beautiful husband, a very talented and beautiful man, who has had two strokes and has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” she says. “Unfortunately that led to a violent outbreak.”
Carol was forced to leave her house for a time and, too ashamed and shocked to involve friends and family, found herself outside her home “basically in the clothes in which I stood”.
“I felt so alone and I really didn’t know where to turn,” says Carol who was badly hurt in the violence. “Apart from having to bury two of my precious daughters and watch the suffering of my husband, it was one of the hardest things I had ever had to deal with.”
Blessed with a “very positive attitude” and “a very strong faith in God, in our Lord Jesus” Carol says she still desperately needed support.
She was helped by the Salvos with advocacy through the court case, shortterm emergency accommodation and some material support.
“The Salvation Army arrived and asked me what they could do for me,” she says. “I had no clothes – they clothed me; I had no food – they fed me; I had no support – so they prayed with me; I had no roof over my head – so they found me a place … where I was safe.”
To “give back” to others, Carol starting volunteering with the Salvos and says she has “nothing but absolutely wonderful things to say about them”.
Cairns Salvos Corps officer Lieutenant Karyn Kingston, who still supports Carol with prayer and friendship, says the respect is mutual.
“Carol comes in several days a week to help out at reception and she’s just fabulous with our clients,” says Karyn.
“She is really calm, she is very warm and I know, particularly welfare mornings, there can be a lot of angst in the room.
“Carol is just fabulous at making people feel welcome and in offering them (care with) dignity.”