We are so fortunate to have had volunteer Sheila Twine with us from the very beginning.
Little did she realise that attending a party at Tangea Tansley’s house in 2009 would lead her on a journey spanning over a decade with an organisation that would be called POOPs!
Or that there would be so much work to do. A constitution to write, insurances to arrange, a universal favourite – dealing with the tax office, and lots of campaigning with anyone who would listen. Sheila remembers a difficult start:
“We had lots and lots of heartaches and knockbacks at the beginning”
Sheila also remembers huge support given by local government, other not-for-profits and donations from the public, which got things going in those early days. Once things were up and running Sheila took on the role of Coordinator for Armadale South, a position she held for 5 years. An animal lover, she also couldn’t resist helping out with people’s pets and at one point was assisting with six pets in addition to her Coordinator role.
After her husband Adam passed away she moved to Mandurah and saw a growing need for POOPs in the area. “I went to a meeting one day and I said, I know we’re not trying to do this, but we really need to spread our wings to Mandurah and Rockingham, we’re just getting too many requests from there”. So Sheila called on MP Gary Gray, requested the use of his office for a launch and got stuck into fund raising. Donations were gratefully received, kids art workshops organised, and of course a tin can for loose change made many appearances.
At a meeting at Rockingham Hospital Sheila found the first Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator for the Mandurah area. She gave guidance when needed and continued to assist as a volunteer in caring for people pets for another 5 years.
In April 2020 Sheila decided it was time to hang up her boots with the passing of her last client and friend, Faith at the age of 94. She had been stopping by for a cuppa and a chat with Faith and walking her whimsically named dog Polly Wolly Doodle for almost 5 years. Sheila enjoyed those chats – listening to Faith talk about all the places she’d travelled, including time spent in New Guinea, and recounts fondly: “she had all her marbles, her body wasn’t great but her marbles were excellent”.
Sheila still visits two of her previous POOPs clients whose pets have gone to pet heaven. “I go and I sing with them or I read stories or something like that, just to keep them in the community. Otherwise it’s easy to lose your connectedness with community”
She visits Frankie and Norma in their homes now, but when Norma, a violinist, was still playing they would venture out to other older folks’ homes and sing together or attend gatherings at The University of the Third Age (U3A), a university specifically for those who have reached retirement or their ‘third’ age of life.
Where do we begin…
POOPs isn’t the only organisation lucky enough to have Sheila as a member of their community. But as Sheila sees it she is the lucky one. Fifty-four years ago Sheila and her husband Adam left family and Scotland behind and started the long journey to Australia, not knowing what they would find. What they did find was a place called home, and Sheila credits this feeling of belonging in part to her time spent volunteering.
“I really think of Australia as home. I have a cousin and a few nephews and nieces here, but apart from that I don’t have any other family here. But I don’t know, I seem to be in so many organisations I feel like I’ve got lots of family around”
Sheila is a Patron of Mandurah Performing Arts and a member of U3A, Jarrahdale Heritage society, Landcare, and Zonta to name a few.
She also plays bridge and is a huge croquet supporter, representing WA in Brisbane in 2019 through Croquetwest. In 2019 she also participated in fund raising to renovate her local croquet club where she has taken some of the folks from an aged care village she visits, teaching them to play as well as creating a space in their village for them to practice. Her black and white collie Lady doesn’t mind all these activities too much because she still gets her daily walks, treats and an abundance of cuddles.
One of her current passion projects called Local Friends, where older folks receive visitors in their homes, is just getting off the ground. Local Friends is a way of connecting people in the community young and old through a love of puzzles, scrabble or a cuppa and a chat.
Did we mention Sheila is 84!
When asked where she gets her energy from Sheila acknowledges good genes and a few quick catnaps throughout the day have helped immensely. Another powerful tool clearly working in Sheila’s favour is her time spent volunteering.
“When you’re working, it’s because you’ve got your hand out for the pay check, but when you’re a volunteer it’s completely different. You’re not volunteering for any gain or prestige, you’re volunteering to give something back to the community and it bounces back on yourself. You really feel a million dollars when you volunteer.”