Yesterday, Tuesday 11 June, Bicton Uniting Church celebrated the 40th anniversary of their CARE Centre. As past and present friends and volunteers of the program gathered and shared memories, it was clear that this program means so much to many people.
The CARE Centre (Christian Action Requires Empathy) is a friendship group for elderly people in the community. For one morning a fortnight, volunteers pick up people in the local area, by a bus gifted from Fremantle Wesley Uniting Church, and bring them back to the centre for entertainment, craft, memory days, laughter and love.
During the celebration, attendees were entertained by Archie, a cheeky ventriloquist doll, and his ‘grandfather’, Alex.
Kay Lockley, an original founder of the CARE Centre, spoke about the beginnings of the program.
“We started in 1979. At that time there was nothing in this area that catered to people who were shut in; who were isolated,” she said. “We have lots of happy memories of our people.”
Rev Mike Fawcett, a previous minister at Bicton Uniting Church, had many fond memories of being part of the CARE Centre.
“It’s about saying the Gospel and living the Gospel,” he said. “One of the things I’ve appreciated over the years, working in nursing homes and the CARE group, you see a person that’s old and frail, and as you get to know them you discover an amazing history.
“I think it’s great that we still have groups like CARE that care for, provide for and encourage people who’ve spent so much of their lives caring for others and now we can help by caring for them.”
Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, thanked all those involved with the CARE Centre for the valuable work they’ve done, on behalf of the wider church.
“Many of you are here today because of your faithfulness to God, to Jesus Christ, and to this CARE ministry,” he said.
“Faithfulness builds community. If you’re a person who’s faithful – faithful to God and faithful to others – you bring a real quality to the life of the people around you. I want to acknowledge your faithfulness, those of you who began this ministry, and those of you who’ve been involved week by week and year by year.
“Forty years is a long time, and it’s not 40 years in the wilderness, it’s 40 years of wonderful service to others in the name of Christ.
“Mother Teresa said that the curse of the 20th Century is loneliness. I think it’s wonderful that this church has reached out in friendship.
“What the church of Jesus Christ can do is offer friendship, thoughtfulness, conversation, a listening ear, support, care, encouragement. And that’s gold, that’s precious. It’s something that we all need.”
Edythe Beste, current Co-ordinator of the CARE Centre, said she is part of the program as an extension of her faith.
“Really why we do it is to spread God’s love; to show God’ love to everybody that comes into our centre,” she said. “It’s a privilege for us to be involved and we get so much out of it ourselves. I think we help each other. We can all learn something from the older folk who come in,” she said.
The CARE Centre is open on the second Tuesday of each month, 9.30am to 12noon, at 1 Carrington St Palmyra.
Cost is $5 per person, transport can be arranged on request. For more info call 9339 0631.