The Time for Mending (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

Tanunda Lutheran Home Inc (TLH) is one of the larger Aged Care Facilities outside the metropolitan area in South Australia, situated in the picturesque town of Tanunda in the heart of the Barossa Valley.

It offers a high standard of independent living accommodation in 98 units and, as of 25 January 2021, 108 in the Residential Care Facility including a dedicated dementia wing.

Having lived in New South Wales for over 40 years, and only “retiring” in Tanunda in 2013, I had forgotten some of the many things that define the Barossa Valley. The verse in Ecclesiastes 3:7 a time for tearing and a time for mending emphasises the attitude of so many “old Lutherans” who don’t want to throw away things but want to repair/mend or give away things they can no longer use. Throwing away anything that might be useful is against their upbringing. Just walking around Tanunda, we often see things left outside people’s homes to be taken and used, frequently in the form of vegies and fruit, but the sharing, caring attitude is obvious.

The Tanunda Lutheran Homes Auxiliary members – wearing the clothes protectors we are making – consists of from left to right: Helen Fiebiger, Jo Freckelton, Margaret Reimann and Eileen Bartel.

The TLH Ladies Auxiliary is just one of the volunteer groups operating within the complex. At present our group consists of only five members and we are always looking for more to join us. Originally members were voted in for six years, but most members have been members for many more years, with Helen Fiebiger having served at least 14 years and still going. It is not an onerous job as we only have meetings every second month. We have one fund raising event for the year: the annual strawberry fete that is held in November (except for 2020). We usually raise about $650 to $700 each year. We also receive donations from various fellowships groups, and for this we are very thankful. Each year we ask TLH to supply us with a “wish” list, from which we decide what we will purchase or help purchase. In the last three years we have given $2000 towards a Niki pump (a specially calibrated device for administering medicine for palliative care patients) and $1544 for an air mattress. We are now in the process of sewing about 200 “clothes protectors” for residents to use at mealtimes. We have spent over $500 for materials, but by being aware of sales, we managed to save over $300 in the purchases. The protectors are bright and colourful with a Velcro fastening for ease of use. At a residents’ representatives meeting, a sample of these was well received and some of the men were looking forward to wearing the colourful flowery ones.

The Auxiliary has been in operation for many years and its functions have changed during this time. Originally, we would help with the preparation of vegetables for meals, but with changing OH&S regulations, this is no longer possible. At present our main objectives are to do mending and oversee the use of funds donated by many Lutheran Ladies Fellowship groups. If possible, we use materials that may include torn sheets or left-over materials from other projects so we can once again stick to our principles of not wasting things. Some things are mended numerous times and we do finally have to “tear” them.

Tanunda Lutheran Homes Staff from left to right: Kim Hahn (staff), Jo Freckelton (aux) Tammy Wastel (staff), Helen Fiebiger (aux) and Britany Mickan (staff). These are the staff members with whom we work closely.

Most of Barossa Zone Ladies Fellowships join in the annual roster of sewing/mending that is arranged by our Auxiliary and they spend time in the sewing room, which is attached to the laundry that supplies us with the mending. The time spent is also a great time for fellowship within the groups and one of our auxiliary members is also present. In the last two years all sewing groups have been invited to have a meal at the home in appreciation of our help. This has been a great initiative by the management of TLH as we are served the same meals as the residents and we can appreciate the good quality and presentation of the meals. There has been very good feedback by the groups that have taken up this offer. Last year (2020) was a year like no other and we were not able to come in and mend for many months. When we were eventually allowed to come, we were given a great welcome, which made us realise that we are still being useful. A couple of fellowships actually came and took mending to be done either at home or during their meetings, which shows how we can work together in times of adversity.

God willing, 2021 will be a more productive year. With COVID restrictions still in place, we need to have shown proof of flu vaccinations and have temperatures taken before being allowed entry. Our numbers are also restricted to six in the sewing room at any one time, but one fellowship group is already offering to take some of the sewing home this year, and we already have three groups booked in for help. As mentioned before, our services are still needed and appreciated by TLH and we pray we will continue in our efforts for many years to come.

Main image: Gwen Ruediger, Debbie Borgas, Sue Riebke and Val Schultz from Ebenezer/Neukirch Ladies Fellowship busy sewing.

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Jo Freckleton

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