Being part of a community is fundamental to a healthy and happy life. From support to social connections and a sense of belonging, communities offer a range of benefits that enable people to grow and live life to its fullest potential.
A Marist Missionary Sister, catechist, volunteer and former President of the Resident Committee at Plumpton Village, Sr Margaret is no stranger to community connections. She moved to the village 12 years ago and gladly took on the relationship with Belinda, the Managing Teacher at Create Training Restaurant, Mount Druitt TAFE.
Belinda manages TAFE students undertaking Certificates II, III and IV in Hospitality.
"I manage students on the floor; they're waiting, doing bar work and making coffees. We also have a group of apprentices and non-trade cookery students that make the meals in the kitchen," she said.
The training restaurant provides students with practical skills and hands-on experience that paper-based learning cannot provide.
For 13 years, Plumpton residents have been regularly dining at the restaurant and always end the year with a Christmas luncheon.
"The village residents have their Christmas party on the last Friday of every November. Margaret books 18 months in advance, so she doesn't miss out," Belinda laughed.
When faced with a major life change, such as entering the workforce or retirement, it's common to feel afraid and isolated. The community connection between the village and the training restaurant provides mutual benefits for both the students and the residents.
Residents enjoy seeing how the students are developing and providing valuable intergenerational support.
"If there are hiccups, which there normally are at the beginning of every semester, the residents are patient and treat the students with respect. That's how the students learn, by making mistakes,"
"The students love having the residents come in. Every time they see Sr Margaret on the booking sheet, they get excited. They've developed a bond. The residents provide significant support and boost the confidence of the learning students," said Belinda.
For the residents, dining at the restaurant is an excuse to get together and maintain social connections.
"The food is so delicious and so beautifully set out. We get treated like Kings and Queens when we go there, and it's just marvellous," said Sr Margaret.
"The relationship has been fantastic from day one, and it's only blossomed. They're so caring. They're so wonderful with my students," Belinda said.