Dorothy brings joy through crafts, connection and creativity.
Walking into Dorothy’s home, it is very easy to see that she is creative. Her lovely welcoming apartment has a gorgeous display of indoor plants, stylish decorations and artwork, and her fridge is something special. It houses an amazing collection of fridge magnets given to Dorothy by her widely travelled niece.
Born and bred in Kensington near Melbourne, Dorothy is very proud of her home in Altona, just a few kilometres up the road, which she has lived in for six years.
“I love it here,” she says with a wide smile. “It is a fantastic apartment block, and I love the way it is designed to blend in with the neighbourhood.”
Dorothy lives in one of Unison’s apartment complexes for people aged 55 and over. The property, set around a lovely courtyard garden and communal open space, has won a number of architecture awards for social housing design.
Living with a group of people her own age suits Dorothy to a tee. “Unison provides a great home for us. I think it is important to live with people of a similar age. The building caters for my age group and I feel safe. I think there should be more accommodation built for the elderly and vulnerable.”
Dorothy connected with Unison with the help of a support agency when her circumstances resulted in her living in her friend’s garage, around 7 years ago. Dorothy first moved into a Unison’s women-only apartment building for about four months before moving to her home in Altona.
Dorothy and her children have had a traumatic history living with domestic violence and in the past women’s refuges have provided a safe haven for her family.
“At the time, I didn’t know that women-only housing existed. Coming from a violent situation, it was really important I lived with a group of women and was safe.”
Dorothy has four children and nine grandchildren, all of whom live in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Now settled in her home, she spends a lot of time with her twin sister working in the local community.
Here is where her wonderful creative side comes in. Dorothy with her sister run a school holiday craft program at the local community centre. It's been running for 12mths and is very popular. A lot of newly arrived migrant children attend and Dorothy remarks “They absolutely love it!”
Dorothy and her sister have also set up craft tables at Wyndham Council’s A Day in the Park and the Music Festival, which are always really popular with the kids.
That’s not all. They also take part in packing kits for the homeless, an initiative organised by Wyndham councillors and community leaders; and Dorothy knits around 50 beanies and mittens each year for people experiencing homelessness. The knitting supplies are provided by Kogo – a 100% volunteer organisation that exists to spread the warmth with the most disadvantage and vulnerable people in our community.
Dorothy and her sister offer free crochet and knitting classes to anyone who would like to learn. “A lot of older woman are isolated in their homes. This is a way to give them a chance to socialise safely at a community centre” explains Dorothy.
In the past, Dorothy has encouraged people in her apartment building to get together in the community room for a cuppa, a chat and to join the community knitting circle to knit beanies and mittens.
Dorothy has had a rough life and has battled depression but she is always thinking about how she can help others. On attending a recent Volunteer Expo she said “I am always interested in what else I can do and what people’s needs are.”
Dorothy is such an inspiration and a shining light. She has brought joy to many people through her connection with her community and generous spirit.