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Centenarian’s voluntary kitchen efforts help peel back the years

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Centenarian’s voluntary kitchen efforts help peel back the years

It’s Wednesday night at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Maroochydore and 101-year-old Mary Norris is hard at work.

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

Ms Norris has been a stalwart of the kitchen roster for about 13 years and says 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 says.

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

“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.”

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

When the doors open, community members stream in for a feed and a friendly chat with Ms Norris 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,” she says.

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

While Ms Norris 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,” she says.

Ms Norris says volunteering has helped her keep happy, healthy, social and active in the community and encourages others to consider doing the same.

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

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

In the wake of National Volunteer Week (May 20 to 26), many volunteers across the region are being recognised for their contributions.

STEPS Group is thanking its team of more than 70 volunteers who help provide opportunities to young adults with autism and disabilities.

STEPS Group managing director Carmel Crouch says she is extremely grateful to the team of volunteers who make a positive difference to students and staff.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to every single volunteer who not only dedicate their precious time to STEPS, but also provide valuable life experiences and skills that help to inspire and uplift everyone they meet,” Ms Crouch says.

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