Seniors crying out for help
THE day James Parkes found an elderly woman sobbing on the floor of her Elliott Heads home because she had fallen trying to do housework, he realised he needed to do something to help.
“It's a pretty lonely life (for many seniors),” he said.
The Bundaberg man founded Oldies Angels, an organisation focused on breaking the cycle of isolation that thousands of seniors experience.
In a year nearly 200 people have begun to use the service to receive weekly deliveries of fruit and vegetables, or just to have someone to talk to.
But the angels are running out of cash.
Mr Parkes is pleading with Bundaberg residents to get behind the new money-raising drive he wants to see taken up throughout Australia.
“The government won't help us - we went to the community cabinet and were told point blank there was no money now and you could try in 12 months time,” he said.
“But there's no time left for these people - they need to enjoy things now.”
The angels is all about “oldies helping oldies”, with senior volunteers buddied with other people to take them shopping, deliver their fruit and vegetables and spend time with them in their homes.
And all that other community members have to do to help fundraise for Oldies Angels is invite family and friends around for the Great Aussie Dinner.
Mr Parkes said it was as simple as cooking, eating and then donating what people think they would pay in a restaurant for the meal.
“And what I want to happen, before everyone sits down to dinner, is for you to go and knock on your older neighbour's door and say 'I'm having dinner, would you like to come?',” he said.
“We all have a story to tell.”
The founder also had ideas for schools and companies to become part of the fundraising initiative.
The official launch for the Great Aussie Dinner will be held at Spinnakers Restaurant this Friday and people have until November 15 to register their dinner plans on the Angels' web site.
Volunteers Val Gibson and Dot Collins will be two of 30 Angels at the launch.
They expressed their gratitude at the level of support the organisation has given them.
Mrs Gibson said she used to be so shy and reserved before joining the Angels that she would make a bee-line for a chair in a group of people and not move.
“Just the other day I was handing out badges and making phone calls,” she said.
Mrs Collins said joining up made her realise she was not alone.
“I've met people and seen people in worse positions then what I'm in,” she said.
For more information, or to RSVP to the launch of the Great Aussie Dinner, telephone Mr Parkes on 0414 895 145 or Mrs Gibson on 4152 1025.
To register go to www.oldiesangels.com.au.