Jenni Sorensen and Mandy Stone
I was travelling around Australia with h my family and studying social work by y distance education at a Victorian univerrsity at the same time. I needed to stop p at a big town to sit some exams, so we stopped in Cairns. We loved Cairns and d decided to stay there for a while. Once I finished my degree, I applied and was as successful as the Community Developpment Worker at the Port Douglas Neighhbourhood Centre. I loved this region so o much that within 12 months we had d bought a block of land in Wangetti and d relocated an old Queenslander onto it. t. There I have stayed for 10 years, and see ee no reason to ever leave.
Grace Parkes kept telling me about ut this friend of hers she was going to bring g to the centre to help me with my filing. g. When I first met Jenni, I thought “Filing, g, she might break a fingernail”. She was extremely well-dressed and beautifully
When I first met Jenni I thought,
‘Filing, she might break a fingernail’”
made up and she looked like she was off to a very posh lunch meeting. Very different from me, who is known to turn up to work with my clothes inside out, not noticing until someone - usually Jenni - tells me.
I really wondered how Jenni and I would get on. It just goes to show you should never judge by appearances. When Jenni hadn’t been here long she was elected as president of the organisation and one day she came in dressed to the nines, and got in the hot, messy storeroom and cleaned it out, because she knew it was driving me mad.
Jenni is amazing - she does everything and anything you ask her. What I admire about her is that if she sees something that needs doing she gets in there and does it. Today she was weeding and planting in the veggie garden. Other times she represents the centre at meetings with the Minister or senior bureaucrats, she cleans out the refrigerator, organises raffles, teaches seniors to use computers, writes letters, works in the NicNak Shed ... the list goes on.
I admire her generosity of spirit, sense of humour, fierce sense of social justice and glamorous dress sense. Jenni is the wind beneath my wings and she backs me up at all times.
Jenni is not funny intentionally, it’s too hard with the rest of us around, but she does do funny things. This week she dressed up Dino the dinosaur to promote the Centre’s 21st birthday and he had a hole in his stomach so she put balloons in there to cover up the hole. They have since shrunk and sagged, and now we know that Dino is definitely a boy. The comments from passers-by have been hilarious.
I first came to Port Douglas with my husband Brian in 1988. We stayed at the newly-opened Sheraton Mirage and purchased a unit in The Queenslander in Mudlo Street just down from the “Old Neighbourhood Centre” and lived there in ’89 while we put the roof on The Pier in Cairns. Since then we came up to Port five or six times a year and have owned various properties and during this time we met Geoff and Grace Parkes as we used their limousine service regularly.
When Brian passed away in March 2008 Grace decided that I needed something else to occupy my mind so she took me to the Neighbourhood Centre in June 2008 with the intention of me helping Mandy with her filing. That same day I ended up on the committee and four months later became president and still am to this day.
Mandy was busy rushing around getting the paperwork ready for the committee meeting so we didn’t get much time to chat. I had never volunteered before so it was a whole new world for me and in the beginning I was in awe of Mandy and her knowledge.
Mandy and I have a great working relationship. The Neighbourhood Centre has eight staff, 45 volunteers and a management committee of eight, so there is plenty to do. Mandy and I work really well together and are very supportive of each other. It is very rewarding when you help people out and you see a smile on their face that wasn’t there when they first came into the centre.
Mandy has a passion and commitment to the service and her fellow workers, is honest, reliable and she has a great sense of humour; she skylarks around and is fun to work with.
Funding is our biggest nightmare - we are here to help the community and sometimes we really struggle due to lack of funds.
She is a driving force in her service to the community. Mandy is so knowledgeable in all areas of the department with her social work skills and her dedication to working with people of all ages and backgrounds, especially amongst the indigenous community.
She initiated the Restore Campaign to restore counselling and personal support back into our service agreement which had been removed by the State Government. Mandy is a very caring person. Last November when I was silly enough to fall over and break my arm I had to spend eight weeks confined to bed. Mandy organised home visits from my doctor and home care on a daily
Her team came last at our annual golf day ... I guess golf is not one of her
basis, which was a great help to me. Mandy is also very competitive and she does not like losing so when her team came last at our annual golf day she was not at all impressed ... I guess golf is not one of her strong points.
At the Girls Night In, Mandy, Tanya Morris, Jennifer Hill and Patricia Duffin performed the ABBA song Mamma Mia on stage and Mandy, as Frieda, took over the whole show and hogged the microphone singing up a storm in front of 40 ladies. It was hilarious.
I think Mandy and I will be friends whether we are involved in the Neighbourhood Centre or not.