Volunteering is simply a way of life for Carmel Wuttke.
A member of Waikerie Lutheran Church, Carmel serves her community through a list of volunteer activities that is almost as long as it is full of love.
Within the church, Carmel is a pastoral and home communion assistant, Ladies Guild president, music roster coordinator, singer in the church band, as well as volunteering with Mainly Music and Messy Church.
On top of this she takes on the tasks of privately visiting people in need across the church community, and organising family baptism gifts to celebrate these special occasions.
“I began volunteering when I retired in 2008,” says Carmel. “As I’d been on the frontline as a secretary and was used to interacting with people all the time I wondered what I would do when I retired, so I am very thankful for the things that God puts in my path.”
Carmel’s love for people is evident in the numerous volunteer activities she also undertakes within the local Waikerie community, where she is a very well-known and much-loved figure.
“I personally have served breakfast club beside Carmel to the students at Waikerie Lutheran Primary school and commented in awe of her willingness to give of her time,” says local Tamara McPherson, a Waikerie Lutheran Church member.
“I have also followed Carmel through the supermarket and I don’t think she walks more than half the length of an aisle before asking with genuine interest how another person is. She recalls family facts relative to those individuals and warmly engages on a level that is far deeper than the usual ‘how are you?’”
As well as breakfast club at three different schools, Carmel is also a Meals on Wheels coordinator, conductor of the Probus choir, Gideon’s Auxiliary treasurer, a primary school volunteer and works with the local newspaper as a reader to create a talking version of the publication.
Local seasonal events in the Riverland are another opportunity that Carmel relishes.
“I love being able to help and I love it when God opens a door and shows me someone I can help,” she says. “I love hearing people’s stories – everyone has a story and if we ask the right questions we can hear them.”
Carmel says one of her favourite activities is working with the elderly in the community.
“I think it’s the people thing – finding out how they are, how they’re coping, sometimes they just need a word of encouragement and a bit of a lift, and if I can be that lift then it’s passing on a blessing.”
While Carmel admits that recent times have been challenging with quarantine measures in place and being unable to be physically present for most of her volunteer work, she has still been in touch with people on the phone constantly, ‘making sure everyone is OK.’
Tamara McPherson can vouch for Carmel’s seemingly everlasting energy when it comes to caring for those in her community and recalls a classic Carmel quote – ‘I wasn’t born to stay at home and clean, so if I’m out and about doing God’s work in the community then I couldn’t be happier!’ – that she feels sums up Carmel’s ethos perfectly.
“Carmel has a deep love for her fellow community members,” says Tamara. “She reaches out with the warmest of smiles, laughter and hugs in times of joy, grief and uncertainty – her compassion is truly boundless.”
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