If helping others is rewarding, then every day must be full of joy for Kiri Te Kanawa residents John and Frances Bailey.
The couple have lived in their townhouse in the Gisborne village for nearly five years and during that time they have continued to offer support and encouragement to residents and the community.
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Their kitchen is a hive of activity where Frances bakes and makes preserves throughout the year for the residents, to help raise money for the annual Ryman charity.
“Gisborne is the land of plenty; we have fresh fruit all year round,” says Frances. “I’ve always baked and bottled for the family."
John does his part too, packing up the boxes on his walker and carrying them over to the village centre for happy hour. Shortbread, fruit loaves, marmalade and tomato relish are some of the residents’ favourites.
Frances’s talent also extends to spinning, knitting and sewing, and she is the “go to” for residents who need clothes altered or extra yarn for knitting. She has her own sewing room in the townhouse.
Having raised a family of six, they are used to being busy; they like it, but they also understand the value that comes from helping other people. Many in the village have been recipients of and appreciated their kindness.
By supporting others in the village in a positive way they are reinforcing social connections. When asking a new resident what she enjoyed doing and finding it was patchwork, Frances was sure there were others who would enjoy this too. So began the village Pins and Needles group!
“There are residents who want to have something purposeful to knit for. It is therapeutic and gives them a sense of accomplishment.”
She keeps them supplied with wool for their endeavours. “I have bags of stuff everywhere,” she chuckles. “During the lockdown I was the ‘wool shop.’”
The list of projects goes on and on - peggy squares, baby clothes, knitted trauma-dolls for the Police and ambulance staff to hand out to distressed children - Frances is involved in them all. “They call me ‘camp mother,’” she laughs. “If someone asks, can you use these? The answer is yes, I can!”
“While I am able, I would rather be doing these useful things.”
Her “Night Owls” spinning group meet in the village once a fortnight. Frances loves being able to use the village centre as an extension of her own home and enjoys seeing the community invited there too.
John also likes to encourage people. He was a carpenter by trade, training apprentices and sharing his knowledge. His patience brings out the best in others.
“Everyone likes a bit of praise at times.”
He also regularly reads to a resident in the care centre.
“It’s a wonderful place to live, says John. “Everybody’s just so friendly. It’s the best thing we ever did moving in here and I’m 110% happy!”
It’s no wonder the couple don’t have a television – they prefer spending their time together, playing a game of Upwords in the evenings, working on their activities and maybe munching on a home-made biscuit for supper.