15 December 2023

Local partnership provides gifts, employment and plenty of Christmas cheer

| Keeli Royle
Start the conversation
IRT and Greenacres CEOs Patrick Reid and Chris Christodoulou with aged care and disability workers hanging over Christmas gifts.

IRT CEO Patrick Reid and Greenacres CEO Chris Christodoulou with supported disability and aged care workers. Photos: Keeli Royle.

A long-standing partnership between Illawarra organisations Greenacres and IRT is helping support the community this Christmas by delivering thousands of products to aged care facilities across the region.

Aged care provider IRT is supporting the work of Greenacres by purchasing almost 2000 gift packs from the local disability organisation to give to hard-working staff across their residences as a token of appreciation this holiday season.

“There’s always the opportunity to work together for our residents and our staff,” IRT CEO Patrick Reid said.

“And this is a good example where we’re able to appreciate our staff for the hard work and amazing job that they do every day, provide some employment for local people through Greenacres and also help them with their economics, our economics and everything else.

“It’s an exciting partnership.”

“IRT supporting their staff and buying gifts for their staff at the same time purchasing them from Greenacres allows our people to remain in employment,” Greenacres CEO Chris Christodoulou said.

“Their staff benefit, but at the same time the Illawarra benefits because people with disabilities benefit by having jobs and learning skills.”

READ ALSO Opportunity, inclusivity and a touch of romance: Greenacres celebrates 70 years of supporting people with disabilities

The organisations have been integral in the Illawarra community for a combined more than 120 years, and have continued to find opportunities to partner for mutual benefit.

“I think for almost 10 years we’ve had a stakeholder relationship with IRT and it goes back a long way and is varied in different ways,” Mr Christodoulou said.

Mr Christodoulou hoped their commitment would inspire more organisations to look local.

“The gifts that we’re producing now are high quality, and so IRT are setting the example for other corporates in the Illawarra region and beyond to be good corporate citizens with some social responsibility about what they do,” he said.

Greenacres workers and IRT workers.

Almost 2000 gift packs were handed out to IRT staff.

Receiving these beautiful gifts meant a lot to IRT staff, who have continued to face challenges throughout the year.

“It’s been hard, very very hard,” aged care worker Franca Marras said.

“The never-ending COVID comes around, and as soon as that happens you’re back in your PPE, it’s been very busy,” Jacquie Quick added.

“Aged care’s a hard job, it’s personal care, it’s looking after people at their best and their worst, and it’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Christmas, New Year, any holiday, our staff usually celebrate that with our residents,” Mr Reid said.

“Making sure the staff, regardless of their religion, regardless of their background feel appreciated and that know that we do absolutely unequivocally cheer for their work and we can’t do what we do without them.”

READ ALSO Illawarra volunteer crafts comfort for aged care residents

Greenacres supported employee Tiana, who works in the new retail store, was all smiles as she handed over some of the packs to some of the aged care employees and helped spread the Christmas cheer.

Her colleague Shane was also glad that their hard work creating all the products had paid off.

“By hand it’s a lot of work, by machine it’s half of that,” he said. “It was fun doing it. My favourite job is the candles, one smell I like is Amalfi and you get a lot on your hands but it smells nice.”

And they could soon have a lot more orders to fill.

“This is really in its infancy, so we really kicked this off in a very small way last Christmas and then we started to develop this plan of having this ‘imagine’ range of products, which actually relates to one of our themes, which is people imagining all the possibilities in their life,” Mr Christodoulou said.

“It has been part of the development and the journey to the point now where we will be exhibiting all our products at the Sydney Trade Fair and we’re hoping that some retail stores see the products and want to have our products to sell.”

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.