A life time of service

By Kate Schmidt

R to L: Current Branch Coordinator Karen Milwood, Breakfast Radio’s Terry Hansen, and Margaret Harvey

When she looks back on it, Rosies volunteer Margaret Harvey is absolutely amazed how much of a positive impact the Logan outreach had on the community.  

We were in a position to get good community backing and it made a lot of difference,” she said.  

“Logan is very different to say (Brisbane) city in that in the city you see people sleeping in doors and that sort of thing, you might see them one night and someone different tomorrow.  

“But in Logan we mostly have marginalised patrons and we see them all the time on Wednesdays and Fridays, we see them the next week and the week after that.  

“Their circumstances don’t change. By the time they pay their rent so they have a roof over their head they don’t get to buy much food or may have habits like going down to the poker machine with what’s left and then their kids don’t get properly fed.”  

Margaret recalled one family in particular, a woman and her two sons.  

“(The boys) come up and have a cream bun or pie or something that they’d never get otherwise because they can’t afford it,” she said. “It’s their night out.” 

The 81-year-old, who held the role of the Logan coordinator for many years, had to step back from the role after a second heart attack convinced her to slow down, but that doesn’t mean that she’s finished with Rosies – far from it.  

Every Friday night you’ll find her with her loyal and trusted team, doing what they can to help Logan’s disadvantaged. 

She first came to Rosies 16 years ago after she retired from working in the disability industry.  

“I was at Mass one night and I’d been wondering what I was going to do and then I saw a little ad in the newsletter about Rosies starting and wanting volunteers,” she said.  

She’d been volunteering with the charity for a little while when she was approached and asked to become the city’s outreach coordinator.  

“They told me I had a month to get this running right or otherwise they’ll have to close it down and I thought, oh well, I’ll give it a go and so I started going to community groups and getting donations,” Margaret said.  

And it just grew and grew from there – soon Margaret started speaking about Rosies at various Masses around the city and visiting other community groups to get the message out there and recruit volunteers.  

Margaret with Patron and Fr John David, former Rosies Oblate Chaplain

“Rosies just grew, it was really needed in Logan and the community got behind us, including the Lions, the Diggers and many others who donated. Then the Islamic and Mormon church communities came on board, the Street Doctor, and Orange Sky too,” she said. 

Margaret was instrumental in finding donations to facilitate the purchase of a new van, as well as starting up outreaches in Beenleigh, both on the street at night and inside the Beenleigh courthouse.  

“We went to them and asked if we could have an outreach outside and they said they’d do a deal with us if we came inside and did outreaches inside the court,” she said. “At one point, including all the outreaches we had about 200 volunteers.”  

As well as helping people get the help they needed, Margaret said what she loved about Rosies was the friendships she formed during her time.  

She couldn’t speak highly enough of her tight-knit team and many other volunteers she worked beside for years.  

“The friendships that we’ve built amongst our teams is amazing,” she said. “We got our volunteers by going out and speaking with people – not the internet – and we got people who wanted to be there, wanted to be there for the right reasons and they stayed for a long time.”  

Margaret said currently her team included an old friend, David, who was her deputy-coordinator, a late friend’s granddaughter and several teachers from Sheldon College. “They are all absolutely fantastic,” she said.  

Margaret recalled another volunteer she formed a close friendship with, the late Mu Hai. She said the Burmese man couldn’t speak a word of English but came along every week because he wanted to “pay back to Australia for giving him and his family a good home”.  

“He was very humble and learnt some English when he volunteered. It was lovely because he also taught the other volunteers some Korean, which is what he spoke. It was very sad when he passed away.” 

While she’s stepped back from her busy coordinator role now, Margaret can’t step away just yet and intends to keep volunteering for as long as she can.