The new issue of Montefiore Life magazine is out now, with features on our new dementia living model, the latest communal events and Fryda’s secret honey cake recipe, as well as our cover stars Vickie & Jane.
Vickie Eskenazi is both a resident and volunteer at Hunters Hill, where she and Volunteer Coordinator Jane Silverman have discovered a shared sense of humour and love of travel.
After looking after my late husband Roger at home, he needed more care and refused to come here unless I joined him, which was seven years ago. We’d moved from Zimbabwe to South Africa and Australia, but this was the most difficult as we left family and friends in the Eastern suburbs. Although I love going to spend time with my two daughters and grandchildren, this is my home now.
People used to look at me as if to ask “What are you doing living here?”. I am 79 now and still independent and healthy, I go out often and only gave up my drivers’ license last year. I also try to travel to Cape Town every few years to visit friends. My last trip was for my sister’s 80th two years ago. Jane is such a lovely, warm person. Everyone knows her here and she has that touch that helps to bring people together.
She approached me about volunteering as a welcome ambassador for new residents, which I do with my friend Jean Sher. People are so pleased to see a friendly face. Sometimes I see a new resident is unhappy, as I was when I arrived, and I can say to them, “Give it time. You have everything here that you could want.” Eventually they acclimatise.
Jane and I have a chat whenever we see each other, and grab lunch occasionally when there’s time. I think she’s fabulous, and we always enjoy laughing together and talking about our holidays and travels.
When I first came to work here at reception more than 15 years ago, I would enjoy interacting with the volunteers as they signed in. When this role came along, it was the perfect mix for my work and people skills. I love being able to support our residents, as well as give the volunteers satisfaction that their efforts are appreciated.
Our resident volunteers are extra special – they come to their roles with a lifetime of experience as well as being able to appreciate the ‘Monte journey’ of their peers. Vickie is one of the welcome ambassadors who greet all new residents with a kind word and reassurance. It gives comfort as people settle in and helps to begin new friendships, too.
Vickie’s perfect for this role as she is good with people, and always ready with a friendly smile or a joke – she has a great sense of humour. Vickie is vibrant, independent, kind and interested in life at Monte and in the community in general – she’s a wonderful role model for ageing in style.