FOR more than three decades, Melville Cares has played a central role in fostering a healthy, happy and connected community.
Founded by a small group of volunteers, including current Melville councillor and one-time Mayor June Barton, Melville Cares began in 1984 as a service shuttling the elderly to and from necessary appointments.
Once word of the service got out, demand skyrocketed and Melville Cares was incorporated as a not-for-profit organisation in 1986.
Three decades later, the group employs more than 90 staff and manages a network of 140 volunteers who service close to 2000 clients throughout the City of Melville and surrounding suburbs.
Following a rebrand last month timed to coincide with its 30th anniversary, Melville Cares has adopted the slogan “The Heart of Community Care” – and the tagline could not be more apt, according to long-time operations manager El Bennett.
“We provide services to young people with disabilities as well as veterans and the aged,” she said.
“As well as over 35,000 transport trips a year we also do in-home support services, shopping assistance, home and garden maintenance, respite, centre-based activities, farm stays and carer support .
“We also run a community visitors program where volunteers visit people that are socially isolated, keeping them engaged.
“Everybody needs somebody and it’s nice to know you’re being considered and matter enough to have a regular visitor that cares and listens.”
Melville Cares receives the majority of its funding from the State Government’s Home and Community Care program as well as contributions from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Disability Services Commission.
Volunteers remain the bedrock of the service and Mrs Bennett said Melville Cares was lucky never to find itself short of a helping hand.
“We live in a very privileged community where a lot of people devote their spare time to generously give back to those in need,” she said.
“Without our volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do deliver as many quality services from the heart.”
That level of commitment is evident among Melville Cares staff too – chief executive Richard Foster is in his 18th year with the organisation and Mrs Bennett is approaching nine years of tenure.
“I love the feeling of helping the community we live in and the knowledge that the team at Melville Cares are able to do so many wonderful things to support people,” Ms Bennett said.
“Melville and surrounding areas are some of the fastest growing regions in the State for an ageing population.
“It’s a very exciting time as we’re currently busy reviewing our strategic plan to cater for community demand as we approach the changing world of client directed care.”