Former St Hilda’s teacher Joyce Funke says quiet retirement last thing on her mind and she embarks on giving back

A RELAXING, quiet retirement is the last thing on Joyce and Friedrich Funke’s minds, the pair choosing to spend every waking moment giving back to the community in any way they can.

Ms Funke retired 12 years ago and having worked all her life, decided it was time to give back.

“You can either withdraw from life completely or get on and do things,” she said.

For a decade, she worked with victim support services, assisting individuals experiencing family violence to piece their lives back together.

“You see people who are the victims of violence or family troubles, they’ve gathered the courage to get help and they realise there is people there who want to help,” Ms Funke said.

“They’re all so thankful and appreciative.”

Describing her experience as “incredibly valuable,” Ms Funke said she only put her time there on a pause so she may commit herself to more organisations she can assist.

This includes working as an audio describer for the state theatre where Ms Funke sits with the visually impaired and describes the setting, costuming and everything in-between of a performance so they may take part.

Following the open-heart surgery of Mr Funke at the Mount Hospital a number of years ago, seeing the wonderful work they do, Ms Funke joined the Friends of the Hospital group.

As a part of the group, Ms Funke strolls along the hospital halls with the magazine and book cart, picking up conversations with families and patients along the way to provide another element of comfort to their experience.

After moving to Parkland Villas six and a half years ago, Ms Funke decided the retirement village needed a little something else.

“We need some new things happening here,” she said.

As president of the Parklands committee for three years, Ms Funke helped to introduce an annual bus trip to the local cinema and theatre as a group, a book club, encouraged more arts events as part of the social committee and is currently the chairperson of the villa’s finance committee while also maintaining her love of singing through a choir.

The former St Hilda’s teacher also still likes to have a hand in the school network, getting “the team together” to organise rosters and outline the Year 11 and 12 exams throughout the year.

Mr Funke is no stranger to spending his time supporting others, volunteering with migrant services to improve new Australian immigrants conversational language skills.

He sits with a group of five to six migrants each week for an hour, simply having a chat so they can familiarise themselves with Australian terms and expressions.

Immigrating themselves to Australia in 1981, the pair hold a fondness for migrants and see it as an opportunity to help new Australians integrate into Australian culture.

Mr Funke also volunteers as a German language teacher, helping to broaden the cultural understanding of communities outside of Australia.

With the small window of spare time they have, Mr and Mrs Funke dote on their two and a half year old granddaughter.

Regional Manager of Retirement Living Fiona Rinaldi said the Funke’s efforts had not gone unnoticed.

“Our retirement communities are full of experienced, skilled and passionate retirees,” she said

“It is wonderful to see their life skills being used in a volunteer capacity to the benefit of our wider community.”

National Volunteer Week celebrates the work of individuals such as the Funke’s who are joined by over 600,000 Western Australians who contribute as volunteers to thousands of community organisations.

Ms Funke believes herself and her husband could always be doing more, as there were opportunities around every corner to assist others.

“If you give, you get so much out of it,” Ms Funke said.

National Volunteer Week runs from May 9-15.

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