An inspirational Ipswich woman is proving that living with a disability is no barrier to helping others achieve their goals.
Despite facing some major challenges due to severe intellectual and physical impairments, Darelle Bond has been a valued volunteer at Carinity Education Southside for the past two years.
Each week, Darelle and her support worker make the 90-minute round trip from Ipswich to Sunnybank to assist students and staff at the independent all-girls school.
In recognition to her contributions to Carinity Education Southside, Darelle was named as a finalist for the Carinity Volunteer of the Year award.
Carinity Education Southside Principal Leann Faint says the 22-year-old has been an “incredible addition to Southside team” who has never missed a day of volunteer work.
“Darelle is a beautiful young girl who has committed a lot of her own personal time to coming into this school and brightening the days of our young ladies. She will help with anything and everything she possibly can to help our girls succeed,” Leann says.
“Despite her own challenges and barriers to education, she still makes the effort to come into our school, sit with the students and go through class work with them.”
When she was six years old, Darelle experienced a severe heart attack and stroke. The resulting acquired brain injury left her with no short-term memory, no right-side peripheral vision and impeded mobility and speech.
“Imagine if you can that you are a normal child who is considered brighter than your peers, then suddenly you suffer a traumatic brain injury and doctors debate whether to turn off your life support,” Darelle’s guardian Keith Nutton says.
“You spend about seven months in hospital before going to your new home, effectively as a seven-year-old baby. Then over the years you learn all the things a baby has to while growing up. Of course, with no short-term memory so many things are more difficult.
“I would suspect that for the girls at Carinity seeing a young lady with a significant disability still trying to achieve something, even though the cards are stacked against her, must be a great inspiration to them.”
For Darelle, who also volunteers at Kambu childcare centre in Ipswich and at her former school, Ipswich Special School, volunteering is her job.
Keith says helping at Carinity Education Southside is also “a way for her to continue to learn”.
“Darelle enjoys that the girls often include her in activities, including some sport, and also she enjoys the way she is treated by everyone at the school,” Keith says.
“The fact the school has indigenous elders involved who can continue Darelle’s cultural learnings is a great help. Darelle often proudly tells her sisters over the phone or when she sees them that she has a job.”
Darelle was one of five finalists for the Carinity Volunteer of the Year award, announced at a special luncheon for Carinity supporters in Brisbane on August 23.
Diana Baillie was shortlisted for assisting with resident activities and outings at the Carinity Colthup Manor aged care community, while Tamara Lunt brings the gift of music to students at Carinity Education Glendyne.
Dawn Reddie regularly attends the Carinity Brookfield Green aged care community with her dog Saya, to share pet therapy and one-on-one conversations with residents, including those living with with dementia.
Award winner Del Baxter has devoted herself to creating beautiful gardens for residents of the Carinity Kepnock Grove seniors’ community in Bundaberg to enjoy.
If you would like to volunteer to assist Carinity and the people we support visit www.carinity.org.au/volunteer or phone 3550 3737.