Author Archives: Co.As.It.Community Services

Geppina Esposito: 100 years of courage

Co.As.It. client celebrating her birthday at Casa Serena.

Geppina Esposito was busy; she had to pose for dozens of cameras, be attentive to her many friends at Casa Serena, and be prepared to receive the sash and the golden crown. After all, it’s not every day someone turns 100, especially a lady ahead of her time. Decades ago, when the gender gap was even more accentuated, Geppina stood out and learned the profession of telegraph operator. In 1958, she said goodbye to her hometown, Montesarchio, in Italy, to study English in London. Courage and drive have always walked side-by-side with the lovely centenarian.

It was in February 1960 that she met her future husband, Giuseppe, whom she married in June of the same year. In September, the newlyweds were ready to board MN Neptunia bound for Brisbane. After settling in the new land, the family got bigger with the arrival of Luigi, Rosa, and Anna, their three beloved children. On November 17th, Geppina commemorated a remarkable milestone with her family and friends at Casa Serena, one hundred years after her birth. The Consul of Italy in Queensland and the Northern Territory, Luna Angelini Marinucci, gifted Geppina with an official letter from the Consulate during the celebration. “I am truly honoured to be able to celebrate this very important event with you today, a milestone of one hundred years of age. Her life is truly adventurous,” said the Consul.

Rosa, Anna, and Luigi, Geppina’s daughters and son, celebrated the special date next to their mum. “It’s important that she has arrived at this milestone with her close friends because she adores coming to Casa Serena. It’s a big achievement to get to such a number,” says Rosa. “Our mother is strong, determined, and stubborn; that makes her special,” Anna and Luigi complement.

*FOOTNOTE: Among a piece of cake and a smile for the camera, Geppina found time to describe the secret of longevity. “I eat vegetables and drink coffee every day. Never alcohol! I can’t stay away from the local and Italian newspapers and my TV shows.”

How Amici House helped Robyn access My Aged Care services

Amici House in Brisbane

Robyn Hollis (73) had never fully understood the process and eligibility to access My Aged Care services – this was before learning the nooks and crannies of the system at Amici House. My Aged Care (MAC) serves as the initial step towards accessing Australian government-funded aged care services. For years, Robyn believed that the assistance scheme was only for older adults in their 90s, living in a wheelchair, and receiving nursing home care.

Robyn’s misconception of aged care services got even more accentuated after her same-age friend tried registering online without success for MAC early this year. “She received a message informing her she wasn’t eligible to apply. I thought that if she couldn’t get through, I wouldn’t worry about it anymore given its difficulty and complexity,” explains Robyn.

Little did Robyn know that her luck was about to change. Having a cup of coffee with friends at Amici House, she was approached one day by the centre’s manager, Barry Egan, with the question: Do you know My Aged Care?

“I told him that a friend of mine was considered ineligible and that it was pointless to insist on it as I wouldn’t be eligible either. That’s when he offered me help,” says Robyn. “I came back the following day, and we sat together. It was just like sitting down with my best friend and chatting. Registering for MAC was so easy, as Barry was so welcoming and friendly.”

That day, Robyn walked out of Amici House with her My Aged Care number. Within one week, she received a visit from one of the Co.As.It. coordinators, where she was guided through the entire process of getting aged care services. In a short period, she began having physiotherapy and podiatry sessions and receiving domestic assistance.

After her experience with the Amici House staff, Robyn became an aged care advocate, spreading the word about organisations such as Co.As.It. leading the way in keeping older adults safe at home. “I struggled to understand MAC, and, in a few minutes, I was registered, thanks to the helpful and supportive staff of Amici House. I wish people could have an Amici House close to home,” concludes Robyn.

Gold Coast clients visit students learning Italian

Italian language student with a Co.As.It. client

South Coast clients visited Coombabah State High School on the Gold Coast in a celebration of Italian culture and language. Welcomed by the Italian language students and teacher, the clients had a lovely morning tea organised by the school and lots of fun with trivia games divided into three categories: geography, music and general knowledge.

Students and clients teamed together throughout the games, lifting everybody’s spirits. Each team had to submit a quick answer to win the round – all participants were sharp. Chocolates were drawn at the end of the competition.

“The connections between our clients and the students are a big fulfilment for them. It allows our clients to tell about their experience as immigrants and share their ethnic heritage and culture,” says Juny Spagnolo, Social Group Activities Coordinator of Co.As.It. Gold Coast.

“These international exchanges create meaningful connections, positively impact the mood and promote a better understanding of different generations, combatting negative stereotypes.”

It is important to highlight that Coombabah State High School is one of the schools receiving support from the Italian Language Centre (a division of Co.As.It.) for their Italian program.

Yvonne shares her positive experience with Co.As.It.

Aged Care Services at Co.As.It.

Yvonne Howman, 75, has been with Co.As.It. Community Services since 2019, receiving in home support such as domestic services every fortnight. Over the years, she has formed relationships with the various community care workers (CCW) who have attended to her.

“People who come are incredibly caring and friendly. They do their work, and we talk about life. They [CCWs] provide a care service in a personal way rather than just coming in, doing the work and leaving,” says Yvonne. “The carers are constantly checking if I’m all right, how I’m feeling and what I want to be done in the house.”

Yvonne says that Co.As.It. has always lived up to her needs and standards. When a CCW can’t make it, she explains, a call from the office is received offering schedule and arrangement options.
“The entire team is very caring and professional, in my view. Co.As.It. puts service where it should be because service is non-existent these days in many areas,” says Yvonne. “I have actually recommended Co.As.It. to several of my friends, and they are thrilled with the service they get.”

Currently, she receives fortnightly visits from CCW Mario Gatto – someone who makes an unmeasurable difference in her life as Yvonne has had two hip replacements and an unpredictable back.
“I love him like a son. We laugh and talk for hours. We have a personal rapport, as I have always had with all the girls and guys who have come to me. I can’t name them all, but I can say they were lovely.”

Nourishing the Soul celebrates Melbourne Cup

Nourishing the Soul at Amici House.

Nourishing the Soul participants wore bespoke fascinators, garments, and jewellery that enriched last Wednesday’s morning session in harmony with the Melbourne Cup traditions. Elegance and charisma paraded side by side at Amici House.

The morning started with a breathing technique demonstration, including relaxation and anxiety control. In pairs, participants learned a guided massage technique, enabling them to receive and give love through a simple gesture like a massage.

As part of the Melbourne Cup theme, Co.As.It. offered homemade scones with whipped cream and jam, coffee, and tea—a delicious break to recover the energy for what was ahead.

It was the moment for a “horse ride competition”, where each participant picked a wooden horse and moved according to the number rolled by the dice. At the end of the activity, all the participants received a calendar for 2024 as a prize.

“The importance of having a project like Nourishing the Soul is that women learn how to empower their lives, bond with their peers, share stories, and grow,” says Cintia Paolino, Community Services Officer.

Nourishing the Soul creates opportunities for multi-aged and multicultural women to develop, increase, or improve their self-esteem and self-love. The techniques taught involve meditation, self-massage, and presentations based on women’s mental health—classes on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month.

Pearl Bygraves: turning 100 in style

Co.As.It. CHSP Client Pearl Bygraves

Age is just a number for CHSP (Commonwealth Home Support Program) client Pearl Bygraves, who recently turned 100. “I like to live one day at a time. I don’t pay attention to birthdays and what being 100 represents.”

Pearl is agile, talkative and radiates some sort of unique “bright” – one might say it is because of the colourful combination of her clothes, nails, hair and dozens of flowers and photos placed around the house.

She exercises daily in what looks like a medley of yoga moves: lifting the left leg first, then the right one and alternating with both of her arms. Before breaking her hip two years ago, Pearl’s workout routine was even more challenging, involving squats and repetitive movements hundreds of times.

There were no cliché answers when asked if she had any healthy food habits contributing to that remarkable longevity. “If I feel like having a chocolate cake, I’ll have it. What is life without eating? It is not enjoyable.” However, she confirms using essential oils to keep her skin hydrated and shining.

Finding time in Pearl’s busy schedule is hard. She wakes up and ensures everything is clean and tidy: the gardens, the kitchen and the living room. She values her independence as much as she enjoys playing Spider on the computer. Around lunchtime, she gets ready to welcome one of her five children or one of the grandchildren in her home, share a meal and then venture out to shop together.

Pearl has been with Co.As.It. since 2021 as a CHSP client, receiving support services through this program to remain living in her own home and maintain her independence.

Euro Concert Brisbane – A Huge Success

Euro Concert Brisbane promoted by Co.As.It. Community Services

Moments with friends, good food, music, and many smiles summarised the Euro Concert Brisbane 2023 at Kedron Wavell Services Club in Chermside on October 4th.

The event celebrated the multicultural community bonds for the second consecutive year, highlighting Queensland Seniors’ Month. Guests enjoyed a line-up of live music, dancing, a generous two-course meal and raffle prizes.

Tanina Softa, Co.As.It Assistant CEO, welcomed the public, followed by a presentation offered by the organisation’s Occupational Therapist, Patricia Lapsley, on the “Secrets of Sassy Seniors”.

Musical Director Frank Debellis and Australian indie artist Vince Gelonese delivered a list of top hits from all decades to the event, thrilling the public who took over the dance floor.

Connie Riga attended the event for the second year in a row. She couldn’t contain her excitement after the band played some classics and set the dance floor on fire.

“What I like most about the Euro Concert is that it brings everyone together. Nowadays, especially for older people, getting out and being socially active with everyone is vital. That’s why I brought my sister this year,” says Connie.

Attending the event for the first time, Teresa Lahme celebrated the opportunity to have the community together again on a high note.

“It was a beautiful and informative event. The older generations need to be involved in gatherings like the Euro Concert – this is what we need in our community,” says Teresa.

“I will definitely come back next year. It is priceless to see people making new friends and meeting up again with friends from the past.”

Dina Ranieri, Co.As.It CEO, emphasised that the event allows seniors in our community to come together and celebrate the importance of wellbeing, friendships and socialisation.

“We also make it easy for them to approach any of our home care staff and access important information about access to home care services to help them live independently and happily. COTA has supported our events greatly, and we encourage as many seniors as possible to attend the event, enjoy lunch, have fun and dance to great music.”

Euro Concert Brisbane 2023 had the support of COTA Queensland and prizes donated by Kedron Wavell Services Club; Flora Di Lizio at Zonta Brisbane Sunrise; Stefano Coco Tiling and Waterproofing; Black and White Home Services, and Angela Poli.

The impact of Amici House on Sonia’s life

Art Class at Amici House in Bracken Ridge

The impact of Amici House on peoples’ lives can be seen through Sonia Willis’ enthusiasm and passion for the activities and atmosphere in the centre.

She has a weekly busy schedule at the community hub: Art Class (Mondays), Stay Active (Tuesdays), Technology Class (Thursdays) and Yoga Class (Fridays). Wednesdays are set aside for a catch-up time with friends at the centre’s cafe.

It was in 2021 that Sonia first stepped into Amici House. She was attracted by the signs around Bracken Ridge road and decided, with a friend, to try the cafe.

“Barry (Amici House Coordinator) showed us around, and I was very impressed. So, I started classes right after my visit,” says Sonia.

“I love participating in the activities because I’m retired now. So, otherwise, I’d be at home and not doing anything. I think it’s good to get out and do something nice.”

The Art and Yoga classes are Sonia’s favourite ones. There is no reason why – perhaps due to the fact she joins a group of friends to have a coffee before the classes.

Sonia was emphatic when asked how to describe Amici House to someone who had never heard about it.

“Come along and enjoy the company of wonderful people and great food. Get involved in the activities as everybody is really friendly. At Amici House, you will find many things you can do.”

NDIS: Brett and his journey of success

NDIS Provider Co.As.It.

Responsible for dismantling NBN antennas and giving the pieces a new life, Brett is proud of his agility and skills with the drill. In fact, it all started as an unpretentious volunteer job, but his outstanding performance landed him a part-time position.

He can disassemble an entire box antenna in less than two minutes, making Brett one of the fastest among the staff. “I take these screws apart and recycle them in different bins. I’m really fast at what I do,” he says.

Co.As.It. has been supporting Brett since the beginning of his journey at eWaste. A Community Care Worker assists him at the workplace – both perform as a well-organised team dismantling the pieces.

“My worker helps me with the smaller screws while I use three different screwdrivers for the bigger ones,” says Brett. At eWaste, he is part of an organisation established to help people with a disability – staff members have a place to gain skills, a sense of achievement and contribution to the community by helping the environment by recycling electronic waste.

Paola Matute, Co.As.It. NDIS Coordinator celebrates how Brett’s life has changed for the better. “It was a significant change getting him ready at the beginning. Brett did not want to pack his lunch, grab medications and attend to his grooming needs. Then, we started to get him into a working routine where he learned the value of getting ready for the work ahead. It was a whole transformation, one that I am very proud to witness,” she says.

Max Shadlow and the War Memorial at Nundah Park

Aged Care Services in Brisbane - Co.As.It.

Max Shadlow (92), our client receiving care under our Home Care Packages Program, can be considered one of Nundah’s piece of history. The former plumber, has in his “resume” services with the Citizen Military Forces and as a Training Officer after World War 2.

More than that, as the president of the local RSL, Max was involved in building the War Memorial at Nundah Park – including the canon and all the plaques.The charming historical park commemorates those who have served in the various conflicts in which Australia has been involved. Its walls contain significant information about the most brutal 20th-century conflicts.

Originally from the last century, the park was redesigned and restored in 2001/2002 by Max and his team. “That park means a lot to me and the people involved with its renovation. The area was redesigned following the construction of the Nundah Deviation Tunnel,” says Max.

The park also contains a Krupp Field Gun, which was unveiled in the park in 1921 and restored in 2002. “The field gun is an authentic piece of history. We decided to camouflage it with special paint to protect it from graffiti.”

Max is so fond of the park that he collects several pictures featuring the before and after the works. He speaks with passion and detail about each metre of the memorial, each brick and plaque.

“It is a lovely feeling [to have built the War Memorial at Nundah Park]. When you drive past the park, you see a couple of school kids reading and learning from the plaques and the walls. There are three schools around the park, and knowing we are spreading wisdom is priceless,” says Max.