Gaylene’s a people’s champion

Gaylene Callaghan and Brent Nielsen with the box of frozen meals Gaylene received from Age Concern New Zealand for being a ‘Dignity Champion’.

Cambridge community stalwart Gaylene Callaghan is all set for an easy-going holiday season after being presented with a box of pre-packed meals by Age Concern Hamilton Executive Officer Brent Nielsen.

The presentation was made on behalf of Age Concern New Zealand. It declared Gaylene as an ‘honorary Age Concern New Zealand Dignity Champion’, officially recognising her contribution not only to Resthaven Cambridge, but also to the wider Cambridge community. Gaylene embodies the Dignity Champion pledge, it said, by championing the rights of older people, by helping combat loneliness and helping build strong social connections.

It was during one of those very social connections that Brent delivered the package – this one was the December 4 final ‘Elevenses’ of the year, a series of monthly ‘musically delicious concerts’ Gaylene has organised for the past few years.  Last week, ‘Elevenses’ guests were treated to performances by New Zealand-based international singer, Lisa Lorrell.

The box of meals Brent presented to her was packaged by Age Concern partner Tomorrow’s Meals. An accompanying letter from Age Concern New Zealand’s Chief Executive Stephanie Clare thanked Gaylene for the valuable work she does for older New Zealanders.

“I have heard you are a true ‘social connector’ and have so many strings to your bow,” the letter went on. “From starting ‘Showtime’ which connects people to the arts, hosting ladies’ long lunches, through to operating the newly-formed mobility scooter club, you help people stay connected.

“On top of that, you work as an Age Concern local agent providing an immediate and much-needed visiting service. I have been told you meet this ever-changing workload and need with passion and commitment. Thank you so much for helping make New Zealand a place where we can all live and age well.”

Gaylene, who handles community liaison at Resthaven Cambridge, started her popular Showtime Travel Connect group in 2007. It brings Resthaven residents and people in the wider community together, offering free transport to and from events and shows around the Waikato area.

Saying she was humbled by the Age Concern award, Gaylene added: “I am so fortunate to be working in a sector which brings me together with elder persons whom I enjoy so much to be with.  My function as community liaison allows me to cover various roles in the community, including visiting people living alone which I do in conjunction with Age Concern.”

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