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14 January 2019

A Community Christmas

by Monique Flavell

For many clients, 2018 was the first Christmas celebrated with the Surrey Hills Community.
2018 had been a big year for many as they sort to adjust to and accept the changes that life had brought.

Considering this we acknowledge that the festive season, although a time of love and joy for most, also has the potential to be challenging or even lonely to some. For this reason, it is an especially valuable time for us to come together as a community.

We certainly achieved this at Arcare Surrey Hills in 2018. Working together, helping out, being part of the organisation aids in promoting a sense of belonging and a familiar atmosphere. Understanding this, clients were encouraged to assist team members with the assembling and decorating of the three Christmas trees across the residence. This provided hours of reflection, sharing and anticipation for all who were involved. When asked what their favourite Christmas activity was this year, many replied, ‘The decorating of the Christmas trees.’

Antoinette, wasn’t able to physically assist but enjoyed directing the team where to place certain ornaments on the trees. She had a better vantage point being a little further away. Antoinette fondly remembers that day and upon reflecting said, ‘I felt like I was a part of it. It brought me closer to others and it felt like being in a family.’

As December progressed, the community participated in various Christmas themed activities including two craft groups where they created their own Christmas decorations for their room. However, the highlight for everyone was yet to come.

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On December 20th in the afternoon, Arcare Surrey Hills hosted their second Christmas Cocktails and Canapes afternoon, allowing clients to invite their family members to join in. Entertainment was provided by Peter Sullivan, whose history includes working as the music director for Melbourne’s Channel Nine. Having recently played at the opening to the AFL Grand Final at the MCG, Peter kept the audience entertained with his lively music and comedy, drawing a great deal of audience participation.

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Lisla, a resident at Arcare Surrey Hills, spoke of the number of families who gathered and the feeling of pride that welled in her heart to be a part of this community. She reflected with pride that, ‘Our Christmas party was an outstanding success by the staff and by the organisation. It was an entirely happy and well-managed experience for all.’

And indeed it was, for the room was filled and above capacity as families mingled together over a glass of champagne and delicacies provided by Arcare’s very own in-house chef. Aliessio and the team wowed everyone with their sensational catering and presentation of the food.

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Santa and his helper (played by team members) helped to serve the food, while even the physio came on board and served drinks behind the bar. The menu included items such as marinated prawns with avocado salsa, potato croquettes with mancheso and corn, beef and cheese sliders, and pork bao with ribdo and vegetables. And, as if this wasn’t enough, Aliessio finished off by serving the most delicious banana fritters with a caramel dipping sauce.

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To finish the day off, several team members banded together to sing a number of Christmas carols to our clients providing many laughs for the audience.

In-spite of a busy Christmas catering schedule, Aliessio made it his purpose to bake home-made biscuits to package and share with the community as a Christmas gift from the team at Arcare Surrey Hills. The beautifully packaged parcels arrived in clients’ rooms the night before Christmas, and was a touching reminder of the friendships that have developed between clients and team members.

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As could be expected, it was with some degree of sadness that the Christmas trees were dismantled and the decorations packed away for another year. Some breathed a sigh of relief as the last of the Christmas carols faded away, but for all at Arcare Surrey Hills the festive season had achieved its purpose – bringing us closer together as a community and giving individuals a sense of belonging in their new home.

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