Farewell from Sandy Matrai

I have had a long involvement with COA of over 4 decades. I first became a volunteer with COA whilst I was at University in the late 1980’s completing my first of 3 degrees. My special task was to help a lady with her shopping each week and then come to her home to put all the items away and do some small chores.

I was also taught how to use a computer by CEO Julia Golding OAM who put me on an old green screen PC which was housed in the kitchen area of the Folk Centre. In those days COA worked exclusively out of the Folk Centre on Rowe Street, opposite to the site of the current COA Centre building. It was very cramped with hundreds of people in the Folk Centre Hall and Julia housed in a tiny ramshackle office, while most COA services ran out of the Folk Centre kitchen.

There Julia taught me how to type up a letter on the PC. I was nervous to say the least, but she talked me through the process and soon I was popping in to help with administration regularly. This was the first of many lessons Julia gave me in a whole range of things both business related and personal, and I thank her sincerely for those lessons and her friendship.

After my first degree in linguistics, and thanks to my weekly duties at COA, I was determined to learn more about computers so I took a course in LAN Management, which led me to a two week practicum at Microsoft. They liked me so much they offered me full time employment and there I remained until an opportunity came up to join the staff at COA in 1998. I jumped at the chance, because COA’s mission has always been close to my heart, and I won the role as COA Office Administrator and Receptionist.

I worked in this role until after the birth of my child, helping to build the COA data base, working on developing new and better administration procedures and computerising the updated forms used when assessing client needs. I departed COA in 2001 after a particularly hard day writing condolence letters to over 15 people. It broke my heart. So I left COA to build data bases on contract for a number of high profile organisations including Optus and Nortel. The money was great compared to working in welfare, but the jobs were soulless, and left me less than satisfied.

One day in February 2006 I was approached by Julia Golding to take a 3 month contract with COA covering the Diversional Therapist who was going on long service leave. As I was between contracts I took up the offer, and quickly became Julia’s go to staff member.

I became the Development Officer at COA, responsible for writing grant proposals, creating and implementing Policy and Procedure in line with government funding guidelines and best practice for care and management for those over 65. I have used my desktop publishing skills to produce the COA Newsletter and various event flyers, organised and scripted large scale events such as our 2018 Anzac Day remembrance., and produced a book honouring COA’s returned veterans. I have coerced politicians into attending and/or presenting at COA special events. And have turned my hand to presenting activities; running the COA Sunday Movies since 2008, one of my favourite jobs at COA as it gave me a chance to truly get to know our regulars. I have taken photos at our major events, created signage and decorated the hall, served food on occasion and have undertaken a million and one other tasks which are needed in a busy office Now – over 17 years later – I will finally end my 3 month contract and say farewell to COA!

I love this organisation and am dedicated to its clients, and its ethos. I applaud the Management Committee’s effort to transform our Centre into a place for more active seniors to enjoy talks, small groups like knitting and art, and a host of other ideas which are busy percolating in the minds of our Committee members. But it is time for me to go back into the world, this time relocating to Bundaberg in QLD, there to begin the next stage in my life journey and a new choice in my working life.

I will miss each and every one of the people I have come to know, and for those members and volunteers who wish to remain in touch please contact the office to get my mobile and personal email. That being said, I wish you all nothing but the very best, peace and love my friends, and I hope to return again when I am old enough to use the amazing services COA, and our whole community, has to offer.

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