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Centacare volunteer Jennifer Scheers is still giving back and challenging young minds to learn

Reading time: Jennifer Scheers volunteers as an adult reader for the children at the Catholic Early EdCare’s St Augustine’s Long Day Care and Kindergarten in Augustine Heights.

JENNIFER Scheers’ teaching skills run so deep that in spite of retirement and some health setbacks, she is still challenging young minds.

Most Mondays will find her at the Catholic Early EdCare’s St Augustine’s Long Day Care and Kindergarten in Augustine Heights, volunteering as an adult reader to the kindergarten and pre-kindergarten-aged children.

Whilst these two distinct groups can swell up to 15 in number at times, after 35 years spent as a teacher aide in the state school system Jennifer takes it all in her stride.

“I’ve always enjoyed doing stuff and making activities for young children,” Mrs Scheers said.

“When I was at Carole Park I worked very closely with a speech therapist who was based there for many years.

“We were always making up games and getting the students to learn to speak or put sentences together.

“In this latest role I gather up some resources and books of my own in preparation and then we go through it together as a group with the children.

“I like to see if I can get them to make comparisons or talk back about what we’re reading, which encourages their comprehension.

“The older children are best but the pre-kindy ones are also quite good.

“You can see some of them are very receptive; asking questions and making statements which shows they’ve been listening, sometimes quite surprising me.”

Mrs Scheers’ invitation to become a volunteer happened quite by coincidence.

She and her husband Peter would often attend weekday Masses at the St Monica’s Chapel, which is adjacent to the childcare service.

As they filed into Mass she would often engage the children in conversation through the garden fence.

Before long these frequent chats and their rapport grew, so much so that the centre assistant director Elisha Casson offered Jennifer the volunteer reading role.

The Springfield Parish also benefits from her generosity, as she and her husband participate in the church’s reading and hospitality ministries.

The generosity of such people – the glue that holds together society – is being celebrated around the nation this week during the 30th annual National Volunteers Week.

These people often form the lynchpin between a host of communities.

In the Brisbane archdiocese alone, the 98 parishes have almost 8000 volunteers on their books.

Centacare, the Church’s social services arm, also features 600 more, giving of their own time in diverse and challenging settings such as hospitals, courtrooms, prisons and at seaports.

The theme for National Volunteer Week 2019 is “Making a World of Difference”.

There can be little doubt that for some young children at Augustine Heights, Jennifer Scheers’ presence has been a difference-maker.

Even if health should eventually decrease Jennifer’s role, her thoughtfulness and dedication will be perpetual as she hopes to donate all the resources she has gleaned to the service.

If you are interested in volunteering around the archdiocese email volunteers@bne.catholic.net.au

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