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How giving back can give life a new purpose

How giving back can give life a new purpose

Howard Davies dedicated 39 years of his professional life teaching primary school children, mostly year 4’s. Now retired, Howard sought activities to stay busy. He joined the team at Baptist Care SA’s WestCare Centre as a kitchen volunteer, where he has spent two years feeding Adelaide’s most vulnerable.  

Under the mentorship of WestCare Chef Gary Bijan, he found the work engaging, and positive relationships with other kitchen staff and volunteers also flourished. “I like being mentored into things I haven’t done before,” Howard says. “Gary is a very good chef, so I suppose I work for the people within the organisation, and the people are kind and that’s nice to be around,” he says. 

On average, WestCare Centre serves 600 meals per week to Adelaide’s most vulnerable. At times Howard says he doesn’t feel he is giving back he enjoys the challenge volunteering brings. “I don’t think you work and then you don’t work, and I think volunteering gives you an opportunity to serve on more honest terms,” he says. “I get really focused. If Gary shows me a new skill like cutting with a right cut, I get into a zone, and it’s almost like a form of meditation, just practicing that skill.”  

Howard has also donated his time volunteering at the WestCare Christmas Lunch alongside his wife Kerry. Describing the experience as “wonderful,” he reflected on society’s perspective of Christmas, which he says for many families is a tense time from the pressure of hosting the perfect celebration. He says serving Adelaide’s marginalised community a professionally presented meal and seeing everyone enjoy Christmas was really special.  

“If you believe in what they’re doing, it can be very satisfying because what they say they’re doing, they’re doing and that’s good to be a part of that team.”  

Thank you Howard for your dedication to the WestCare Kitchen.