Once a week you’ll find Mary in the office of the Bendigo Foodshare warehouse tallying up how much food leaves the shed, on its way to partner organisations. This daily tally is then regularly compiled into a report and submitted to relevant government agencies.

Mary has been volunteering at Bendigo Foodshare since 2018! She chose to volunteer with us because she passionately believes in the services Bendigo Foodshare provides to both people and organisations. Mary’s parents immigrated to Australia as ten-pound Poms in the mid-1900s, arriving with very little, and bringing with them the war-time attitude of never wasting anything. Mary was brought up with this belief, and sees Bendigo Foodshare as a perfect fit for her values of recycling and repurposing. She views Bendigo Foodshare as an exchange – food input and food output – you need to “give to get”.

Mary is also passionate about mental health. After completing a free Mental Health First Aid Course offered by Bendigo Foodshare, she learned that individuals are at risk of detrimental mental and physical health outcomes 2 years after retirement; this risk significantly increases if they don’t have an interest or hobby to keep them actively engaged in society. She wants to encourage everyone to keep living when they retire!

Mary loves her weekly shift at Bendigo Foodshare. She says, “Foodshare is a tribe – we are bonded in shifts.  Even if we don’t know people on other shifts, we’re all connected to the overall Foodshare Tribe”. 

Mary highly recommends volunteering at Bendigo Foodshare. In addition to the importance of ‘living after retirement’, and giving back to the community, Foodshare offers a variety of roles suitable for people of all ages and abilities, depending on their area of interest.  Couples can  volunteer together, out in the  vans, picking up and delivering food in regional areas, or they could get involved in sorting food and vegetables in the warehouse, working as part of a team. 

When she’s not volunteering, Mary keeps her mind busy by undertaking administrative work for her husband’s business.  She is also an avid musician and enjoys nurturing and encouraging others to take up music. Mary’s heart-music is bluegrass, Celtic, Aussie bush ballads and 60s and 70s music from artists such as Karen Carpenter, Joni Mitchell, and the Beatles. She regularly attends music festivals, and twice a year  the Girgarre group get together around a campfire, where there is a strong sense of belonging and camaraderie. Mary plays the fiddle and ukulele, and she derives a lot of pleasure from playing with other musicians.  

Thank you Mary, for your passion for volunteering, mental health, and music, as well as for reminding people that “Volunteering could save your life!”