Sheryl Meredith

WEAVING her magic to make a house a home is Sheryl Meredith’s passion.

Luckily for her that’s just what she gets to do.

She is presently the Team Leader for the Vickers 1 home and has a real drive to connect people with where they live.

It’s been working with people with a disability to create their home, which has brought her the most joy during her working life with Mercy Connect.

She first came to Mercy Connect in 2000 after a career in sales had lost its appeal.

At the time she was looking for a change in direction and got lucky with her first job application.

“I was studying Certificate IV in Disabilities and put in an application with Mercy Connect,’’ she said.

“I had just dropped the application off and remember the manager running after me to stop me as I was driving out, she offered me a job on the spot.’’

She spent the first six months working in the children’s home and was then given the task of setting up a home for people with behavioural issues.

The task came with its own set of challenges.

Not least was providing the furnishing and all the things that go into setting up a home.

“The manager told me to purchase what I needed for the house; she gave me a credit card and said you only get one chance with this,’’ she said.

“But I didn’t really understand what she meant and only bought a small amount of what we needed.

“When I went back to her to ask for more money she said no.

“I had to find some other way of getting everything we needed.

“Luckily one of the op-shops was closing down and we got three truckloads of furniture and other household items from them.

“That made the home.

“I had been put in there to make a home, they were hard days but I always tried to work with an element of fun.

“And we have a lot of fun together.’’

It’s that element of fun combined with a fierce determination to fight for the rights of people with a disability which has been a guiding principal for her work.

“I enjoy finding peoples attributes,’’ she said.

“It’s exciting making discoveries, seeing their potential and then later seeing how far they have come.’’

She has a real passion for enabling people to learn skills which help them in their own lives.

So educating people with a disability and the staff she works with gives her the opportunity to fulfil lives.

“I think I have empathy and a real understanding for how the other person feels,’’ she said.

“You can change people.

“There are lots of little things you can do that can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

“It’s great to identify areas where people can enhance their skills.

“And I like to mentor the staff so they have a real understanding of people with disabilities.’’

Her passion and commitment comes out when you talk to her.

Though there have been some difficult times, her joy is evident when she speaks of her 15 years with Mercy Connect.

“I’m very lucky I’ve had so many opportunities,’’ she said.

“I often wonder to myself why I love this work so much.

“I realise it’s about doing the work and being as fulfilled as you can and fulfilling other people’s lives.

“People with disabilities want to live the most normal life they can.

“Their home needs to be somewhere they feel safe and comfortable, where they can let down their defences and just be who they are.

“If I get a little back from helping them do that then that is the reward.’’