Even in her darkest hours, Jean Schroeder gives back to her community.
When two of her children died six weeks apart last year, Jean still volunteered to help people in need at our Family Centre in Port Adelaide.
She says the centre acted like an anchor, giving her a sense of purpose through what was – and still is – an unimaginably difficult time.
“It either makes you stronger or you pack up and go to bed and stay there,” Jean says of coping with grief.
“You need to keep doing what you were doing beforehand.
“You need to be out with other people.”
Jean, 77, has been volunteering with our organisation for more than 10 years and can be seen behind the Emergency Relief counter at 58 Dale St, where vouchers and food parcels are distributed to those who come in seeking support.
She describes herself as a “jack of all trades” and is not fussy about the tasks she takes on.
“Anything I can see that needs doing, I’ll do it.”
Over the years this has included helping with our Chat ‘n Chew program, which offers mental health support and social connection, and supporting people in financial hardship who need food and other emergency assistance.
“Until you are somewhere like this you really don’t realise how bad it is for some people,” Jean says.
“You see them come in with their kids and it really hits home.
“It just makes you so grateful for what you have.”
Anti-Poverty Team Leader Cindy Adey says Jean is one of the most generous people she has known.
She nominated her for the 2017 Premier’s Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Volunteer Service, as well as a Volunteer Recognition Award through the office of Port Adelaide MP Mark Butler – both of which she received this month.
“She’s just beautiful and we are so fortunate to have her among our amazing group of volunteers,” Ms Adey says.
“Even when she has been going through such a tough time, Jean has kept coming here giving back to others in the community.
“Her strength is unbelievable.”