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90-year-old Vincentian Joyce Parsons celebrates 20 years of compassion and smiles

A friendly face: Joyce Parsons with Fr John Conway at St Bernadine’s.

JOYCE Parsons has been a friendly face to hundreds of vulnerable people seeking assistance from the St Vincent de Paul Society’s St Bernadine Conference in Regents Park.

In September, Ms Parsons will celebrate her 20th year with the organisation, and next month, she will celebrate her 90th birthday.   

“If you try to be friendly to people, it’s marvellous how friendly they become to you,” Ms Parsons said.

“Some people are very ‘standoff-ish’, but I find that if you show them a bit of friendship then you’re right. That’s all it is. I’ll talk to just about anyone.”

Ms Parsons has a long track record of being friends with people.

Friend and St Bernadine’s parishioner Danuta Herbert said it was a gift Ms Parsons had.

“Joyce has a gift of being able to talk to people and get information out of them without forcing it, and they just seem to open up,” Mrs Herbert said.

“And by opening up like that Joyce goes a long way with the client.

“She also has a fantastic memory.

“She can memorise every person’s name.

“She mentions little things like ‘how’s your health?’ or ‘are you still living here’, or ‘are you still living there’?

“She’s always giving people advice, which helps them a lot.

“People love coming here when she’s working because they can always have a chat with her and a laugh together, and that plays a big part.” 

“I find I’m very pleased when people come in and say they’ve got an interview for a position, and then they come back and say they’ve got the position,” Ms Parsons said.

“I feel I’ve done something, because some people have been coming to us for over nine years.

“Some people come in very embarrassed about asking for help, and they’re nearly in tears.

“If you say, ‘settle down, it’s hard to ask, but it’s easy to give’, they settle down and you can help them.

“Sometimes they look as if they’re not too well. And the next time they come in I say ‘you look a lot better’. 

“Some people are lonely, and when they come in here they don’t know what to expect. So I just offer them friendship.”

St Bernadine parish priest Fr John Conway has been a friend of Ms Parsons for 25 years. 

“I think one of the significant things I find is the commitment and dedication that Vinnies’ members have, and Joyce certainly is at the heart of that,” Fr Conway said.

“We see Joyce at the office a couple of times a week picking up whatever is needed.

“I think that’s a significant expression of her commitment in faith and her commitment to reaching out to those who perhaps are in need of assistance.

“She’s been doing it for twenty-years and we appreciate all that she does as a member of the conference, and as a member of the parish.”

Joyce plans to retire at the end of this year; however, she will continue to visit her friends at St Bernadine’s.   

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