Barbara O'Sullivan lives in our Mawson Court retirement village in Caves Beach. It’s a great place to relax and unwind, where you can see and smell the sea and sit back after your working life is done. Unless of course your name is Barbara O'Sullivan!
Barbara was never one for sitting still too long, so it’s no surprize she is now volunteering and working in the retirement village she also lives in.
Barbara is 75 years young and has become the unofficial Mawson Court Social Activities Coordinator, Arts and Crafts Supervisor, Bingo Caller, Sewing Advisor and Rose Garden Curator. There is also a popular footy tipping competition in the care home, which Lifestyle Coordinator Karen Gough, Barbara and residents Ron and Jack, run over the 25 weeks of competition.
Barbara is a godsend to everyone she engages with and has a big heart. There is nothing she can't do or learn to do quickly, and she inspires those around her to get busy and stay mentally and physically active.
She fondly remembers growing up in the area, she brought her family up in Caves Beach and has an intimate knowledge and love of the local community. At the age of 15, she became interested in nursing and later worked for various local doctors. She was especially interested in dementia, as her mother contracted the disease very early in her life at age 50.
Her daughters were also heavily involved in the dance world and owned their own dance school. This 'Dance Mom' and her husband Allan both supported their daughters for 20 years, with everything from costume making, shoe repairs, administration and creative consultation.
After Allan passed away in 2008, Barbara was working at the local Caves Beach takeaway. It was there she served workers building the new Mawson Court facility and she eventually met their Manager over a toasted sandwich. Later she moved into the Southern Cross Care Retirement Village and started calling Bingo on Sundays after mass. But Barbara wanted to do more for people and found a new love in volunteering.
'I need to keep busy and I love being around people, so volunteering is great for me. I want to share my passions and bring a little joy to Mawson Court and because I live in the retirement village, it feels like home, even when I'm at work.' Barbara says.
Perhaps Barbara's favourite activity is the residents group discussions, where everyone gets the opportunity to tell their life stories. 'It’s actually quite amazing to hear some of the care home residents speak of their earlier life. It makes you realise what a contribution they have made. One lady used to be a costume maker at the London Royal Opera House. They all have a story to tell and I love to just sit back and listen.' She says.
Barbara also helps with resident day trips and scenic drives, BBQ's, sewing workshops, arts and crafts, bingo, footy tipping, gardening, fashion parades, games and working alongside other caring volunteers.