This month, we would like to shine the spotlight on one of our outstanding volunteers, Emelita Aguda Howlett, who has had not only a huge impact on her local community but has also been an enormous help to many NCNS Workers, groups and events.
Carolyn Gilbert, NCNS Team Leader – Early Childhood, has known Emelita since she was 10 years old. Carolyn revealed that Emelita was well respected in her community while she was growing up and how Emelita’s home became a place for herself and other young people to go to and feel safe. Emelita was a mentor, teaching life skills to many young people. She showed kindness and acceptance to all young people regardless of their backgrounds.
Justine Reynolds, NCNS Community Development Worker, has known Emelita for many years, in fact she was actually Emelita’s supervisor at an early childhood centre in the past before Justine began to work for NCNS. Justine described Emelita as, “always compassionate, caring and giving. Emelita has some wonderful talents including sewing, dancing and cooking. She has an abundance of energy and after she retired from childcare, she has not slowed down.”
Justine explained that, “The women’s group, Collective Community volunteers’ group and Breakfast Club, all benefit from Emelita’s generosity and skills. Emelita has helped so many places in the local area in different ways such as making bags, dog, cat and kangaroo items, as well as donating and cooking for the homeless. She is silent about what she does and seeks no recognition. Emelita does what she does because that’s her and it comes from the heart.”
When Emelita first started coming into Cranebrook Neighbourhood Centre to attend one of the NCNS Women’s Groups, she observed NCNS Community Development Worker, Cathy Briffa preparing massive amounts of food for our Breakfast Club each Tuesday morning.
Emelita approached Cathy without any prompt, to see if she would like a volunteer worker to help do food preparation for Breakfast Club and of course Cathy accepted this offer with open arms.
Since that day, Emelita has made table cloths for our Breakfast Club kids and comes into the centre twice a week to help with food preparation such as slicing ham, cheese and tomatoes for our much-loved toasties, amongst many other things.
Emelita’s connection with young people is something that continues today, with Emelita forming a wonderful bond with primary and high school students who attend our Breakfast Club. Her kind and easy-going nature makes the students feel comfortable and naturally they look to her as someone they can talk to. This is one of the reasons that students look forward to Emelita coming in every Monday and Tuesday.
Cathy is so thankful for the work that Emelita has done for NCNS and herself, so to show her gratitude, she decided she wanted to give Emelita something meaningful as a gift for Christmas. Cathy thought what better way to demonstrate our appreciation than to put together a personalised quilt from herself and the students who know and love Emelita. Cathy knew that this would be something that Emelita would appreciate being a talented seamstress herself. For example, Emelita often uses her sewing skills at Breakfast Club, hemming or repairing children’s uniforms that require fixing, doing it then and there.
To create the quilt, Cathy gave each student a square of material and provided textas so the students could either draw a picture or write a message to Emelita. These squares would then be sewn together to make the quilt. The students loved this idea, so they got straight to work on their piece of the puzzle.
Once the quilt was finished, the students presented the personalised quilt to Emelita one morning at Breakfast Club. Emelita was left speechless, with tears in her eyes as she accepted the gift from the students.
We are so glad that Emelita loved her gift and we hope that when she looks at this quilt, she is reminded of the huge impact she has made on so many of the students in her community. Cathy describes Emelita as her “golden angel from above, we couldn’t really cope without her help, she makes our jobs so much easier!”
Emelita has come back in 2020 and continues to help us at Breakfast Club on Monday and Tuesday mornings.
We would like to say a massive thank you to Emelita for her continued support and we would like to congratulate and recognise the gigantic impact she has on her local community.
Justine finished off by saying, “Emelita is a pleasure to work alongside and I feel very blessed to have Emelita as a friend. Everyone needs an Emelita in their world!”