Jennifer moved to Mansfield eight months ago. She fell in love with the town at first sight and is already active in the community. Read on to hear her tips for a successful transition to country life.
Tell us a bit about your life before Mansfield.
I lived in Montrose at the base of the Dandenong Ranges, another beautiful part of the world. I raised my children in that area.
As a Program Leader at a day care facility for dementia patients, I thoroughly enjoyed creating programs to enhance our patients’ lives. It can be really tough for carers looking after their loved one, so it’s of paramount importance that families are given respite.
Why did you move to Mansfield?
For many years I wanted to live in a small country town. I’ve always loved Mansfield’s beauty and it’s less than two hours from my family and friends in Melbourne. The timing was right for me to change to a more relaxed lifestyle, to find a little more ‘me’ time.
What was your first impression of Mansfield?
It was raining the day I arrived, but as I drove in, a magnificent rainbow reached across the town. The best welcome ever! Everyone was friendly and helpful. Very quickly it became obvious that there was a wonderful sense of community, from people saying hi in the street, to the many events and activities around town.
Tell us about your volunteer work.
One of the first places I went was the library. It has since become my ‘hub’. I’m always met with a welcoming smile. I now volunteer as a Library Nannie, along with Judy, another Nanna. I assist Rebecca, the librarian, on alternate Thursdays, and lead, with Judy, on the other Thursdays. For any parents/grandparents/carers who’d like to come along, it’s every Thursday 10.30–11.30 am. We have fun times with stories, singing, exercises and craft activities. There’s even an Easter Extravaganza coming up!
The library offers many other activities, particularly for children. They host Armchair Travel Nights, book readings/launches, scrabble club and more. Call in and have a chat with the staff to see how to become involved. They are a wealth of information.
What is verilyconnect? What is your involvement?
Verilyconnect uses applications on mobiles, tablets and computers to create an online community where dementia carers can connect and support each other. The government initiative (with Latrobe University and Mansfield Hospital) includes chat rooms, referral systems and video-conferencing. It’s aimed at carers in the country areas of several states, who otherwise have little access to support.
Because of my interest in dementia, I volunteer to assist carers to download and learn to use the applications. With a successful outcome, we hope this trial will continue into the future. For further information call 03 5444 7676, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or find a pamphlet at the library.
What’s next for you?
I am commencing Certificate 111 in Education Support this month, with the goal of employment at one of the local primary schools as a Teacher Aide/Integration Aide. I’d love to be part of a team helping our children gain knowledge, wellbeing and independence. Ideally, I’d work part-time so I can continue to enjoy my new, relaxed lifestyle.
I’m also keen to volunteer at the new hospice, Rosehaven, which will be an ideal home for those needing care for a loved one.
Do you have any advice for people considering a tree change?
When I moved here I chose to get myself ‘out there’ and I’ve already formed some treasured friends and many acquaintances. For anyone moving to Mansfield, make yourself known in the shops, library, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Locals are very happy to offer advice, directions or other help. Live music/events at local venues are a great way to meet and chat with people. For those interested in volunteering, try the hospital, schools, Friends of the Library and nursing homes. Give the local Council or the Hospital a call and they’ll send you in the right direction.
If you’d like to ask any questions or just chat, you’re most welcome to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. I want to continue to meet new people and enjoy this country lifestyle in Mansfield.
Facebook: Jennifer Harrold