For two women, Anglicare WA has become part of their life and extended family after they stepped through the doors 20 years ago.
Lisa Whittaker accepted a part-time position with the organisation in Bunbury and never thought she would still be there two decades on.
Now the regional manager for the South, with six promotions under her belt, Ms Whittaker oversees services in the South West, Goldfields and Great Southern.
“I have always loved the work, loved working with people and doing work that made a difference in people’s lives,” she said.
“I’ve gotten to see a lot of diverse communities and got to work with awesome people in those regions.
“I’ve always been passionate working with families so that they can have really safe environments, but also so the children can grow to have positivity around their own life.”
Listing her time in the children’s contact services, the dads and kids playground group she developed and the Certificate IV in Children’s Contact Service Work she created as some of her proudest accomplishments, Ms Whittaker said she still had more to do.
“For me I would love to develop Bunbury a lot more with regards to our programs and services, always looking at different opportunities and looking at ways where we can collaborate with others,” she said.
“In some ways I still feel as passionate about the work as I did when I first started, that hasn’t changed for me, always having those different challenges has meant that I have always been able to have a fresh outlook on things and keep motivated.
“I really love working with people so that they feel connected, to family, friends and the community and so that they feel included – they are driving forces for me.”
Describing it as her dream job, Wendy Black was surprised and proud when she was offered her first position as a financial counsellor.
Twenty years later, now working as the practise consultant for financial services, Ms Black has helped more than 5000 people and managed a team of 22.
“I just remember in the first few weeks of my employment, thinking this is just my dream job, I remember thinking ‘I can’t believe they’re paying me to do this’,” she said.
“I really loved it and I still really love it.
“I couldn’t imagine myself working anywhere else, I think Anglicare has become part of my life and part of my family.”
Looking back on the earlier days, Ms Black remembered doing income and expenses with a pencil and eraser and said the organisation as a whole had come a long way.
“When I started financial counselling there was no computer and no mobile phone so I was typing letters to creditors and my colleagues were hand-writing letters,” she said.
“What we’ve seen change is the way we deliver services to clients, we work with their strengths and what they can do and how we can help them get to where they want to be – that’s been a big change over the past 20 years and it’s a good change.
“One of the goals would be to have a hub – one location integrated with a lot of other services in Bunbury.”
Anglicare WA chief executive Ian Carter sincerely thanked Ms Black and Ms Whittaker for their two decades of dedication to communities across the South West and to the values of Anglicare WA as a community service organisation.
“Anglicare WA is privileged to have long-term employees like Wendy Black and Lisa Whittaker, who have strong local connections and a real commitment to assisting people at times of great stress and difficulty in their lives,” he said.
“There will be hundreds of families throughout the South West who will have benefited from the advice, guidance, compassion and support that Wendy and Lisa have been able to provide through their skills.”