Carmel shows no signs of slowing down

St Vincent de Paul volunteer Carmel Toohey is kept busy 12 months of the year. Picture: Supplied.

BRADDON’S Carmel Toohey is showing no signs of slowing down.

A long-time volunteer of St Vincent de Paul Society and pioneer of the Canberra Vinnies Night Patrol, she says she is constantly on the go for 12 months of the year.

“I’ll go for as long as I can,” the 75 year-old says.

“It just doesn’t stop and there is always a need to help others.

“Each person has inherent dignity regardless of their situation or the state that they happen to find themselves in.

“I love helping and being a part of it.”

She has concerns about the future of volunteering and subscribes to the theory that generosity is an innate quality and cannot be taught.

“I don’t mind helping out because it’s what I do,” she says.

“But I’m a bit worried as to who will pick up the slack when the behind the scenes volunteers like myself aren’t here anymore.”

Catholic upbringing in Bega

Mrs Toohey, puts her kind outlook down to her Catholic upbringing in Bega.

“I come from a big extended family,” she says.

“We were brought up to always look out for others.”

The mother of two and grandmother of two hardly stops to count the cost of the work she does behind the scenes and it’s no surprise to learn that she admires the efforts of St Teresa of Kolkata.

Mrs Toohey works closely with the Missionary of Charity Sisters in Queanbeyan and at any given time can be found cooking for them so they can help feed the poor at Ainslie Village.

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She actively supports other ventures also such as the Christmas fare at Captains Flat and her culinary skills are well-known.

Carmel has been cooking and baking since she was eight years old and is also an accomplished sewer and knitter.

She says beanies and gloves are the most popular items at this time of year for obvious reasons however she laments the fact that she will likely take her textile skills to the grave.

“It’s a skill which was passed onto me and at this stage I can’t see myself passing the intricacies of the craft on to anyone,” she says.

A former aged care worker who was involved in enhancing the quality of life of the elderly, Mrs Toohey describes her home as a busy drop-in-centre.

It is there where she often organises pick-ups and drop-offs of goods collected by the Central Canberra Parish which can be used by the poor and homeless.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says.

Mrs Toohey and her husband Ray celebrated 53 years of Marriage last month.


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