NEXT time you buy a book from the Gordon Street Lifeline store, spare a thought for volunteer Gwenydd Carter.
The 80-year-old is charged with sorting donated books into categories, pricing them and keeping the shelves stocked with reading material from biographies to reference books and novels.
Keen board game players also have Gwenydd to thank for hours of board game fun.
She checks each game to ensure all the pieces are accounted for and replenishes missing parts from a stock of board game odds and ends at her home.
Gwenydd has notched up almost 17 years as a Lifeline volunteer.
“I’ve worked all my life and you just get into the habit,” she says.
Gwenydd worked for the TAB for three decades including 17 years as an agent and says being a volunteer at the Lifeline shop is a lot less stressful.
Her volunteer role at the Lifeline shop started on the cash register and the rest is history.
“One day I foolishly asked if I could tidy the books up and that has been my job ever since,” Gwenydd says.
She puts in about 18 hours a week at the Lifeline shop where the company is among the drawcards.
“When my husband was dying, Lifeline was my lifeline,” Gwenydd says.
“Since he passed away, it has been my second home.”
Gwenydd says she has been made to slow up since her 80th birthday but she still pops in to the shop when she is not officially working.
She enjoys talking to the customers too, with the store attracting many regular faces.
“It’s good company,” Gwenydd says about the volunteers and customers.
“It keeps your brain active.”
Community support is the financial life stream of Lifeline Mid Coast as it receives no government funding.
Proceeds of all goods sold through the shops go back into the work of Lifeline.
Last year, Lifeline Mid Coast answered more than 13,000 crisis calls and provided monthly support groups for those bereaved by suicide.
Sadly, suicide remains the leading cause of death in women aged 34 and younger and men 44 years and younger.
Gwenydd is also a volunteer at the Driver Reviver Centre off the Pacific Highway.
Helping as a volunteer dates back decades for the 80-year-old.
She was a foundation member of the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment in 1950 during which she worked as a volunteer at hospitals in Sydney.
Gwenydd received a Lifeline Golden Wattle Award in 2011 for outstanding commitment to Lifeline.
Today, Gwenydd proudly wears the Golden Wattle badge given in recognition of long service.
The badge features a sprig of golden wattle set against a blue background and signifies Lifeline under the Australian sky.
The gold is universally understood as a symbol of excellence and long-standing commitment, and the wattle is symbolic of Australia.
Gwenydd is also part of a craft group which started 23 years ago and has evolved into an extended family.
The members get together once a week for chat, afternoon tea and a perhaps a little bit of knitting or crochet.