MERCURY SERIES: MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Beryl Fairley is quietly making a difference to people in Wollongong who find themselves socially isolated at home.
Mrs Fairley began volunteering with Neighbour Aid after her husband Geoff died of cancer in 2005.
Before his death, the Fairleys had a reputation for getting involved in the city through their business Balloons N Everything.
Mr Fairley once said he enjoyed being in a business that was always about making people happy.
Since his death Mrs Fairley has found another way to do that.
After selling the business six years ago she contacted Wollongong City Council after seeing a newspaper advertisement looking for volunteers.
She knew she wanted to do something but was just not sure what until an interview with council staff.
"They really are a dedicated group of people," she said.
"They ask you what you are interested in and they match you up with what service they think you would be suitable for. Then you have training."
Mrs Fairley said Neighbour Aid provided her with a great opportunity to do something with her time for other people.
"I take a lady who can't see very well out shopping once a fortnight," she said.
"I don't think I am doing very much myself.
"Neighbour Aid also has two buses that run every Wednesday and I go out on a bus once a week as a volunteer."
Mrs Fairley said there was a need for more volunteers to help people who could no longer get out by themselves and anyone interested could call 4227 7381.
She said those on the bus tended to be older people who were unable to drive.
"They get picked up from their own home," she said.
"It is a social outing and we have lunch somewhere nice and they get dropped home. We have fun. It is really good. They are really nice people. I wish more people knew about it."
Mrs Fairley has been nominated for her community service in the annual Seniors Week Achievement Awards.
Her nomination describes her as an extremely caring lady who devotes time to helping the elderly maintain their independence in their home and community.
Among them was a 101-year-old woman she regularly visited at home until she died last year.
"We got along so well," Mrs Fairley said. "She was an inspiration. I just loved her. She had funny stories and could tell you all about Wollongong in the early days."
Apart from Neighbour Aid, Mrs Fairley also makes plenty of time for her three children and nine grandchildren.
But she always finds time for her elderly Neighbour Aid friends.
Nominations for the Seniors Week Achievement Awards close on September 14. Details are at www.nswseniorsweek.com.au.