Anna has been volunteering at the AnglicareSA Daphne Street Early Learning Centre in Prospect for so long that she has seen past children grow up and return with children of their own.

After starting in 1980, Anna (69) has seen the centre evolve from a children’s home to an early learning centre. Over the years she has been involved in everything from giving children breakfast and looking after babies, to cleaning and organising laundry.

“Being with the children and the staff, it gives me a purpose to get up in the morning,” she said.

“I’ve never had favourites, but the little ones can’t say ‘Anna’, so they call me Nanna.

“I haven’t married, but I’ve loved children from the start.”

Anna grew up in the 1950s in a traditional Greek-Australian family. With an intellectual disability, she was led to believe that she would spend the rest of her life mainly within the confines of the family home.

Her sister Chrissie said Anna was “very shy, had no opinions, and was put down and told all she can do is clean the house”.

“Back then no one considered those with disabilities and even more so when you were from a European background. Anna had no confidence in herself — there was no regard for her and her abilities.”

Chrissie, Anna’s sister
Anna was awarded Anglicare Australia Volunteer of the Year in 2017.

Chrissie has always been there by Anna’s side, recognising her talents and supporting her as both an advocate and a friend. 

With Anna’s love for children in mind, Chrissie said her husband thought of introducing Anna to volunteering with AnglicareSA.

“With the children, she’s always felt loved and respected and all of the employees have always thought very highly of her,” she said.

“Anna’s always loved children and what happened was, the child care centre and the volunteering made her start to feel like she belonged in the world and society.”

Anna’s devotion to the children at AnglicareSA Daphne St is truly unique. At one stage she continued to volunteer despite a hefty early morning commute.

“A lot of young professionals [like teachers and doctors] have brought their children to the centre and she really grew as a person,” Chrissie said.

“She used to have to catch two busses and was there at 7:30 on the dot to meet parents and children.”

Anna has devoted her life to supporting children.

Chrissie said her sister continues to amaze her.

“So many local families know Anna — I tell her she’s a celebrity going to the shops with everyone saying hi,” she said.

“She goes bowling every weekend and socialises at her local community centre. Anna’s also bilingual in Greek and English and her vocabulary is quite honestly incredible.”

Anna said while she “can’t believe” it has been 40 years, not being able to volunteer during the coronavirus pandemic has reminded her how much she loves what she does.

“It’s my life — if it wasn’t for my volunteering, I’d be sitting in my unit doing nothing.”

From 18–24 May 2020, it is National Volunteer Week — an important time to celebrate and recognise the amazing contributions volunteers make to our community.

Learn more about volunteering with AnglicareSA.