2 September 2021
Gabrielle Grenier started volunteering at Mary Mac’s in April 2019. Much to her surprise, she won the Volunteer of the Year award on 26 May at the Volunteering Central Coast (VCC) 2021 Awards Ceremony.
“My boss nominated me in complete secrecy and only told me a few days prior to the event that I should go,” said Gabrielle. “Given her encouragement for me to attend, I thought I might receive a nomination certificate. I would have been happy just with that! I never expected anything else. So winning was a total surprise!”
After a divorce, and with her children grown up, Gabrielle’s life needed a new purpose so she enquired to Mary Mac’s about how she could help. As a Team Leader she is responsible for food rescue which involves collecting donations from Woolworths, Coles and Aldi.
“This work has given me a new understanding of my local area and the number of men, women and families in need,” said Gabrielle. “Many don’t have a place to stay or can’t put food on their tables. To me, volunteering is about helping others, making a real difference in their day-to-day lives, being available to listen to them and their situations. We call the people who come into Mary Mac’s our companions and I want them to know they matter, that they are important and cared for.”
Mary Mac’s Place in Woy Woy is open to anyone who is homeless, transient or needing a helping hand. Traditionally they have supplied a sit-down meal served to companions by the wonderful volunteers. Currently they are offering a takeaway meal due to COVID restrictions.
But Mary Mac’s is more than just a place to get a meal – it provides connection and belonging without judgement. It offers a place to shower and to wash clothes and friendly support and companionship to address the experience of isolation and loneliness that many in our community experience. They also provide a pathway to other services like Legal Aid, homelessness support services and health assistance. With support from community partners, a selection of food is available daily for those in need, and from time-to-time they can provide food hampers.
Gabrielle also volunteers her time at two aged care services and every week goes from one service to another.
“Being there and caring for others is amazing and woke a force in me I didn’t know I had. My life has been totally transformed by this experience,” she said.
A huge congratulations to Gabrielle from everyone in Broken Bay and thank you to all the wonderful volunteers.