NATIONAL Seniors Australia chief executive Dagmar Parsons used a zone conference commemorating the organisation’s 40th anniversary to speak about her future vision for the not-for-profit organisation.
Hundreds of members packed out Langley Hall at RAAFA Bull Creek for the event on Wednesday, which also featured a number of high-profile speakers including current WA Senior of the Year Graham Mabury and the founders of voluntary charity organisation Manna Industries John and Beverley Lowe.
Mrs Parsons, a former mechanical engineer, said she felt reinvigorated by the new role in a completely different sector.
“I spent the last 15 years working in corporate environments, predominantly in the resources industry and decided to take six months off to just enjoy myself,” she said.
“I got four months into it and this opportunity came up.
“They wanted somebody in the CEO role that can build businesses and transform businesses and that is something I have a bit of a track record doing.
“I’ve also been on the board of a number of not-for-profit organisations so I know what the challenges can be.”
Mrs Parsons said one of her major focuses was ensuring National Seniors Australia remained a strong and independent voice of advocacy for its members, which meant making the organisation self-funding and self-sustaining.
“It is amazing to see the depth of membership that we have, the quality of our people and the skills and enthusiasm they possess,” she said.
“I think in the past as an organisation we have been very reactive rather than thinking about what the world is going to look like in five, 10, 50 years time and using that information to start building a better environment and future today.”
Manna Industries provides a variety of charitable services, including meals for the homeless and disadvantaged school students.
Mrs Lowe spoke about how Manna began and encouraged others to do what they could for those less fortunate than themselves.
“My husband John and just happened to pass a park one day and saw a group of homeless people sitting under the trees in the rain,” she said.
“We came back five hours later and they were still there and so we went home and made them some soup.
“Now, we serve 250 meals six days a week at lunchtime.
“It is a great honour speaking at conferences like this and we just try to inspire people to get involved in helping out in some way.
“People are kind, and they want to know how to be kind.”