101-year-old Mary is an unstoppable force for good

It’s Wednesday night at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Maroochydore and Mary Norris is hard at work.

101-year-old Mary is an unstoppable force for good

At her station, she peels the vegetables for the weekly community dinners offered to anyone who needs a meal, company and a welcoming place.

It’s a highlight of her week.

“I look forward to it, every Wednesday night we’re on, because I’m with a nice bunch of ladies and we have a nice crowd of people come in,” she said.

The small kitchen is bustling with volunteers and benches are stacked with ingredients, many donated by local businesses and organisations.

Mary, 101, has been a stalwart of the kitchen roster for about 13 years.

“The first day it opened, I came in and started with them,” she said.

“I’d come up here and retired and I just wanted to get out and do some charity work.

“I lost my husband at an early age — he was a returned (service) man — so I’ve had to look after myself since then.”

When the doors open, community members stream in for a feed and a friendly chat with Mary as she serves up at the counter.

“It’s company for me, and I feel I’m doing something to help someone who needs it.

“I just hope I can keep doing it for a bit longer.”

At 101, she even credits her health and independence to her volunteering habit, refusing to give it up for any reason so trivial as age.

“Keep on doing what you’re used to doing,” she said.

“I think when you start saying ‘I can’t do it’, then you decide you won’t do it.”

Mary is just one of the community champions appearing in a mini-documentary video series spreading the stories of inspirational people contributing to our Sunshine Coast Biosphere.

Oz Harvest – supporting people for a stronger biosphere community

Oz Harvest addresses two key challenges: food insecurity and food wastage. Here they divert surplus food that would otherwise go to landfill and feed people who are going hungry.

What is the Sunshine Coast Biosphere?

The Sunshine Coast Biosphere is not just a place; it’s a commitment to a sustainable future of caring for our environment, growing our local economy and creating a strong community.

In a strong community, everyone is included and treated with respect and opportunities are available for all.

Our Sunshine Coast Biosphere celebrates the connections that forge a strong community where people belong together: connected to nature, to each other, and to a common goal of a sustainable future for everyone.

Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2022, the Sunshine Coast community has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability with this international recognition, becoming part of a global network of Biosphere Reserves showcasing how communities and nature can thrive together.

Implementing plans such as the Sunshine Coast Community Strategy is one way Council contributes to the Biosphere.

The role we all play

While Mary is the vegetable peeler, others in the kitchen have their own ways to contribute.

“We’ve all got our own certain jobs we get into, and we always automatically do them of a night. “You just come in and start,” she said.

These volunteers are helping create a strong community, built on the understanding that we all have ways to connect, care and support each other and when people feel valued they can participate and contribute to community life.

“I think you just respect people and treat them properly,” Mary said.

“If you always speak well to them, you always get the same things back to you.”

Like Mary, we can all contribute in some way to our Sunshine Coast Biosphere, whether at work, home or enjoying the outdoors.

Opportunities for volunteers of all kinds

National Volunteer Week is May 20 to 26, with this year’s theme “Something for Everyone” highlighting the diverse passions and talents everyone can bring to volunteering.

Mary says volunteering has helped her keep happy, healthy, social and active in the community.

If you’re inspired by Mary’s volunteer spirit, why not put your hand up to reap the benefits of volunteer work?

Council’s volunteer program offers a range of volunteering opportunities including environment visitor centres, local heritage, libraries and more.

It also supports Volunteering Sunshine Coast, where you can explore volunteer opportunities for organisations across the region.

This article 101-year-old Mary is an unstoppable force for good has been supplied from the OurSC website and has been published here with permission.