A much-loved pillar of the Bunyip community was hailed as a “jolly good fellow” at St Thomas’ Church Hall as she moves on to the next phase of her life.
Davina Veenstra, who has been coordinator of Bunyip Community House for 16 years, has recently retired from her role and held a special afternoon tea on Tuesday 25 February to celebrate and thank the community she has worked with for so long.
The afternoon was also a surprise party honouring Bunyip’s new OAM, Tony Arrigo, and his wife Carmelina.
In a speech, Ms Veenstra listed the couple’s considerable service to the community.
She also used the occasion to congratulate Father Ken Parker, priest in charge in Bunyip who recently celebrated 50 years of his ordainment.
But Fr Ken was determined to also recognise Ms Veenstra’s achievements, and asked the crowd that packed the hall to describe what she meant to them.
Compassionate, open-hearted and inspiring were some of the words that were shouted readily across the room, before the guests joined together in a spontaneous rendition of “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow”.
Shirley Higman, president of the V3 Lions Online Branch, said she first met Ms Veenstra at Tonimbuk when Ms Higman was planning on starting the garden recovery for fire-affected residents.
“Next thing I know, I had the Community House doing plants to give to us,” she said.
“From what I’ve heard and seen since then about Davina, she just brings things together.
“Whether it’s her idea or somebody else’s idea, she brings it together and keeps sharing it and talking about it and getting action on it.”
Meg Platt also met Ms Veenstra over the planting program.
“I love the way she reached out, it was inspiring,” Ms Platt said.
Claire Godbehere said Ms Veenstra’s kindness, empathy and compassion were stand-out qualities, with Ms Veenstra always able to find it in her to show compassion and kindness to anyone who needed it.
Reflecting on her almost-18 years with the Community House, Ms Veenstra said she had made many “lovely memories” and met “so many wonderful people” throughout the wider Bunyip community.
“Those years were a great chapter of my life and now a new chapter begins,” she told guests.
“Who knows what lies ahead, but I do hope it will be with you, one way or another.”