Recognising the Contribution of Volunteers in the Community

In June 2019, a number of volunteers and staff from CO.AS.IT Melbourne had the
opportunity to spend an unforgettable evening with the Governor of Victoria.

Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, together with her
husband, Mr Anthony Howard AM QC, hosted a reception to celebrate the contribution of
volunteers engaged in providing services in the northern metropolitan area and rural
region of the State.

The function, held in the regal Ballroom accommodated over 900 people representing
industries and organisations from education, the children sector, agriculture and
community services.

From the CO.AS.IT. Visitation Program, volunteers Giovanna and Alessandro Gamberale
together with Bruna and Pierina Gualano were amongst those personally thanked by the
Governor for their altruistic contribution in the community towards the wellbeing of
others. “The experience of meeting the Governor and walking through the beautiful
historical building is something we will hold dear in our hearts” says Giovanna.

“An amazing and memorable evening, amongst so many wonderful people” echoed
Alessandro. That is how the evening to ‘Celebrate the North’ unfolded with lots of chatter,
amazement and charm by all those who attended.

Just as delighted was the participation of another volunteer from the CO.AS.IT.’s friendly
visiting program in the nomination and then subsequent selection of the faces featured on
the Victorian Seniors Festival booklet for the 2019 October Program.

Giovanna Andrenacci in the booklet, tells her story of migration, working with Italcare to
her current volunteering role with the Visitation Program. The following is the tribute of
Elvira Andreoli, former South East Regional Coordinator of Volunteers left for Giovanna.

Giovanna started as an in home support worker for Italcare 21 years ago, working mainly in the Southern
Metro Region. Through her knowledge of the Italian culture and language, Giovanna provided direct care,
respite and general happiness to people of Italian origin who needed support to remain living at home. For
many years she supported isolated people who looked forward to her company, her smile and especially her
amazing rich, Calabrian style dishes.

We chatted for hours and in conversation Giovanna mentioned she missed her connection with the Italian
Community. She was happy in retirement, but she wished she could somehow be connected once again with older Italian people.

I spoke to her about the amazing work done through the Visitation Program and gently nudged her into
considering becoming a visiting community volunteer. This would give her the opportunity to reconnect not
only with her beloved Italian community, but also with the organization that fostered that connection in the
first place.

Giovanna has enjoyed being a Community Visitor with CO.AS.IT. for almost a year now. She says: “I love
older Italians, and I love to be connected with them. They look forward to a smile; a word of comfort;
someone to spend some time with; to have a coffee together. And, at the same time, I feel connected. Older
people touch my heart and I like to do my best to touch their heart when I can, the Visitation Program helps
me to do this. It is a wonderful program.”

The Visitation Program turned out to be a perfect segway from employment into retirement, without the
need to lose cultural connections and flair.

Thank you to Giovanna for all the years dedicated to Italcare, and now, thanks for continuing to serve the
Italian community through the friendly Visitation Program. CO.AS.IT is acknowledging and appreciating
Giovanna’s contribution to the program; it values and recognises the hurdles she may have faced. She has
shown perseverance and commitment to quality of care and love.