Linda Ireland was the first volunteer with SHINE for Kids Cessnock when we began operations at the correctional centre in 2008. Over the next 8 years she made a dynamic contribution to the lives of children and families in the region.

Linda helped with our Prison Invisits Program on weekends and with our Friday Child/Parent Activity Days whenever they were held. She helped to prepare and set up our annual Christmas Parties and NAIDOC Family Fun Days and assisted on the days themselves. Linda and her husband Bob would also supply tables and chairs for the events.

Linda authored two articles for us, the first on how to tell a child their parent is in prison and the emotional impact on the child, and a second on a child witnessing an arrest. She spent several weeks meticulously and diligently researching, writing, rewriting and referencing these articles, which are still in use today.

At Prison Invisits and the Activity Sessions at our Child and Family Centre, Linda developed such a rapport with all the children that they would frequently ask, “Where’s Linda today?” A qualified school teacher, Linda applied her skills to the Invisits, where she would play word-association games with the older children, or research and bring along worksheets for the children. These sessions became very popular with the children, contributing to both their engagement and their self-confidence. Linda would spend time with the children helping them to believe in themselves and instilling in them the belief that they could succeed, building up their sense of self worth.

Linda attended all of our annual Volunteer Recognition Dinners and entertained us with her colourful and very funny stories. She represented SHINE for Kids at various presentations never missed an opportunity to promote our need for volunteers within her community.

In April this year Linda decided it was time to go on to other things. The children and families will miss Linda’s upbeat presence and the care she devoted to them. She knew that working at SHINE for Kids is to make a difference to the lives of those around you. Her wisdom, patience and strength supported children and families at times when they needed it most.

Linda, from everyone at SHINE for Kids – thank you.

Above: Linda Ireland (second from right) and her husband Tom at the annual Volunteer Dinner for SHINE for Kids Cessnock.