“I came to Brisbane Common Ground nearly three years ago and it was the best move I ever made because it put my life back on track,” says Cheryl.“ I was in private rental and had a bit of a landlord from hell and unfortunately I had to get out of there. Then I ended up in a halfway house,” she continues. Cheryl remembers the uncertainty she felt during this time and is openly appreciative of the case worker who introduced her to Brisbane Common Ground. “She was brilliant. She brought me down here one day and she said you might just like it and… I did like it,” she laughs warmly.
“In the beginning it was a little bit hard for me, but I’ve got used to the swing of things now. I love my little place – I embrace it. It’s beautiful.”
Cheryl talks animatedly about the vocational opportunities she has pursued during her tenancy at Brisbane Common Ground. “I’ve been very fortunate,” she says.“ I did the Certificate II Business Administration course that TAFE ran in the building which led me to have a three month extended contract with the Department of Housing and Public Works. I loved it, I absolutely loved it,” Cheryl enthuses. “It was admin work and I was helping a lot of different people from personal assistants to managers to executive staff. I learnt so much, it was amazing,” she adds. Cheryl has nothing but admiration for the departmental staff she worked with “I can’t believe how passionate the staff are; these are the right people for the right job,” she firmly states.
Cheryl also enjoys the recreational aspects of Brisbane Common Ground and is actively involved in the Absolutely Everybody Choir which rehearses in the building every Friday. “The choir is run by the School of Hard Knocks. We’ve got a wonderful group and even performed at QPAC last year,” says Cheryl proudly. When the School started up a Music Theatre group called Rhythm of Life mid-last year, Cheryl was keen to join it as well. “We’ve done Oliver and the Wizard of Oz and at the end of the year I believe we will be doing Mary Poppins. I can’t sing to save myself, but I like it,” says Cheryl cheerfully. In addition to her pursuits at Brisbane Common Ground, Cheryl is actively engaged within the local community. “I’ve been with the Brisbane Ekibin Lions Club now for three years and I’ve been Secretary for two of those years,” says Cheryl. “I was thrown into the job and had to learn quickly. Luckily, I’m a quick learner – you can show me something once and I write everything down – that’s the way I learn.” Cheryl says her involvement with the club is very rewarding and gives her the opportunity to do a variety of things. “This year I entered the Personality Quest which raises money for Lions Medical Research. I raised $6000. We had lots of sausage sizzles, we sold flowers, we had a lot of raffles and all sorts of things. The club was right behind me,” shares Cheryl. “I came fourth, so I was pretty proud of myself.”
Cheryl was also instrumental in securing a $500 Club donation to sponsor Common Ground Queensland Queensland’s recently completed Colour, Community and Hope Mosaic Sculpture and states that the Brisbane Ekibin Lions Club was happy to support such a great community project. “There are so many beautiful tiles,” she says. “We have lots left over as well, so I hope we can have another project.”
It is obvious from talking to Cheryl that she is a true participant in life. “I fill up my days. In my spar e time I make birthday cards – I do them in 3D. It’s a lot of work. I’ve been so busy though, that I haven’t made one card in about 6 months,” she observes. “My grandchildren also take up my time.” Cheryl is also considering doing another course through Common Ground Queensland’s Employment, Training and Volunteering Program while she is in between jobs. “I’m 62 now, but I can’t see myself retiring. I’ve just got my learner’s licence again after not driving for ten years because I’ve noticed that a lot of jobs require you to have a licence. They say if you don’t use it, you lose it,” Cheryl says with conviction. “I’d like to do the Certificate III in Business Administration just to keep going. Something will come up, it always does.”