Bonnie Fundraiser and More

16th February, 2015

Greetings to all,

Did you know that the country with the largest coastline is Canada? (…. All those islands) or that the European City with the greatest population is Istanbul?

Well I didn’t – and neither did a large number of “Trivial Pursuitors” who met at Fairway last Saturday, June 2nd  to raise money for our Melanoma Fund raiser in honour of our amazing resident Bonnie Roberts who has     battled this disease heroically for several decades.

Due to the inspiration of our Carer, Lee Anne Hill who faces her own considerable health challenges by planning parachute jumps, ……. the night was conceived as rather an audacious concept ….  who would come ….. who would care ….. who would want to go to an Aged Care Facility on a precious Saturday night?

Well as it turns out – plenty! And our large multipurpose Activity Complex was totally packed.

Families, residents, Marriott folk, Melanoma Victoria staff, local business holders joined with volunteers to enjoy a rollicking good time, some home made baked goodies and the great feeling of parting with some cash for an excellent cause.

Volunteer staff did a great job setting up, organising, waiting tables, providing the entertainment, cleaning up, packing up, lugging furniture back and generally being amazing.

Thanks is needed in the highest degree to Lifestyle Manager, Tonianne   Hawthorne who made it happen and volunteer Tom Dailey who is our beloved Culture Vulture facilitator extraordinaire and did a terrific job as MC for the night.

A visit from the unspeakable Dame Edna (who was baby sitting for Barnaby Joyce and Vicki) created equal amounts of amusement and disbelief.

I waited in the car park (as usual) to greet her but she always seems to enter from a secret passage-way. It’s all over by the time I give up and come inside.

Bonnie Roberts has given permission for me to tell you of her experience with Melanoma.

But first I want to tell you all something about her.  Born in Tasmania Bonnie has had (and is having) an extraordinary life.  She developed huge empathy for others from childhood when she noticed other children at school were hungry, poorly clothed and shod and that even then she could see how huge the difference was between her comfortable life and theirs.

Working for others became an imperative and as well as raising her own family she pushed for change at Government level – particularly around the issues of Domestic Violence and Rights for Women. She was instrumental in setting up the FIRST refuge for women in Australia (and still – despite being in Fairway works to provide comforts for women and their children who are in refuge accommodation).

Her community service includes visiting women in prisons, and agitating for the development of that Hobart jewel for local artisans and the public; The Salamanca Market. In fact without Bonnie  it would never have existed.  She has held civic and community positions (including close to our interests; a Board position on an Aged Care Facility) Bonnie was the President of the National Council of Women and has been involved in countless projects including successfully lobbying for the first school of Social Work at the   University of Hobart (she had been horrified to learn that students had to go interstate to study and make this a career).

In 2000 Bonnie was awarded an – Order of Australia for her outstanding service to others.

Two decades ago Bonnie developed small lesions on her forehead – these turned out to be cancerous and a rare form of melanoma eventually invaded her right eye.  Years of treatment; painful surgeries and drugs could not halt the invasive spread. She had to have her Right eye removed and extensive areas of debridement around her forehead.

Bonnie would never experience anything in life without fighting for what could make things better – mainly for others. Like so many diseases requiring money for research and improved management techniques,  melanoma, especially around the eye, was  a disease with limited treatment options.

Well after her harrowing surgery, Bonnie and her daughter Julie helped raise over $100,000 for a new surgical microscope enabling surgeons to see the area being examined without the need for damaging biopsies and extensive tissue removal.  If this piece of equipment was available earlier Bonnie may have kept her eye – but others now will have a much greater chance of  earlier diagnosis and better management due to this fantastic contribution.

To raise $5,000 from a comparatively small group in  a small facility says a lot about the size of the ‘heart’ of the Fairway  Community – and may I say I think it’s enormous!

‘Community’ is something written about with great eloquence by the social commentator Hugh MacKay. His ‘Gandhi Oration’ at the University of NSW last year outlined the huge contrasts between our comparative affluence, educational, political and economic freedoms – and our fragmentation on a more intimate and social level.

He cites the huge growth in anxiety and mental health issues, (20% of our population suffer), the underemployment and unemployment of 2 million Australians, the increasing number of the homeless (over 100,000); And in many instances our lack of concern for refugees, the elderly and disabled.

We no longer respect the Church, Banks and Financial Institutions, the Body Politic and in many instances would fail to recognise our neighbours in a line up.

He claims that the above, plus increasing divorce rates (36%), declining   birth rates, the IT explosion and the growth in single person households (speculated to reach 30% of all households in 10 years) is overwhelming   evidence that the pressures and competitiveness of modern living has not brought us fulfilment.  In fact in the quest to be “happy” (well off, well dressed, well home’d, well holiday’d, well  educated, well looking ….) we are perpetually less so.

The basis of his discourse is that we are simply “disconnecting” from our species. The more we ‘advance’ the  greater our separation from neighbours and being  a highly evolved social group the more we are isolated from neighbours the greater the loss to the neighbourhood; depleted             neighbourhoods contribute to cities which start to struggle with ill health, violence, family breakdown and disaffection.

This malaise of the Western world is complex in its cause but the antidote is relatively simple ….. well theoretically anyway …. We are basically so up ourselves and self absorbed with our self obsessed selfie-taking that we have forgotten to care enough about others.  Genuine care, not just lip       service or tokenism but the kind of care which invites a smile as you pass a stranger, that prompts one to forget being shy and enquire if another is OK, that makes an effort to show gratitude for service given, that puts a hand up to help with a school fete, a working bee a community project, that really    listens in a conversation and respects the viewpoint of another (even if you think it sucks).  Small kindnesses repeated become a mindset, a mindset  informs how one behaves and moulds ones children into similar behaviour and consciousness.

Mackay calls such conduct a discipline He also described it as love – not the emotional, attachment type remove which is enjoyably gratifying but an ethic of “being” we should all aspire to.

Acts of community connectedness are precious but they require, reflecting upon and nurturance, a positive intent to throw ones’ hat in the ring and give sharing a go.

….. Even if it means attending a Trivia night in an Aged Care Home! …..

Blessings to all,

 

Sandy.

We listen.
We respect.
We care.