Brenda has led an exciting and ever-changing life – from playing every sport there is in New Zealand, to working in the Cook Islands, to landing a role with Feros Care and subsequently with In Great Company, her life hasn’t been boring. She is now Volunteer Coordinator and gets to experience first-hand the lives this volunteer program changes.
What’s your name?
Brenda (Bren) Tyack
What’s your background in life and in work?
I grew up in the North Island of New Zealand, mostly in the small town of Thames which is located on the East Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. I was married in Thames and both my sons were born there. Both my parents are still on
top of the ground; my Dad is 94 and my mum is 87 so I have come from good stock! I also have a brother on the Gold Coast and another in Auckland.
Prior to moving to the Gold Coast in April 2010 I lived in the Cook Islands – Rarotonga for 2 years where I worked in Sales and Marketing for 6 months before moving into a role as an Investigator of Ministry of Audit. I was offered this
role as my previous work history in New Zealand was with Work and Income (Centrelink equivalent in Australia).
Living on an island that is 35 km in circumference and the only way in or out is via air, played a significant part of my life’s journey for many reasons. The start to new beginnings and a new chapter in my
book. During these 2 years my first grandchild, a boy, was born which drew me to Australia. Since moving here, I have gained 2 more grandchildren, a granddaughter in Australia and another grandson
back in New Zealand.
Since moving to the Gold Coast my work life has included 9 ½ years with Wyndham Vacation Resorts in a variety of roles from within the Legal realm to Customer experience, to Manager of VIP clients. Then I
moved over to Feros Care where a couple of other positions have led me to NSW Volunteer Coordinator with In Great Company.
I live with my partner in our home we purchased 3 years ago on a canal. There is just something quite tranquil about living by water and it’s a place I love coming home to at the end of a day.
What are some of your hobbies and interests?
I love the water, in it (swimming), on it (fishing, paddle boarding), under it (snorkelling) or just looking at it (daydreaming). I like entertaining or being entertained by going out for a nice dinner,
live shows and listening to a good band. I have always been active (although not so much lately). In my younger days I was an avid squash, netball, and touch rugby player, which came back to bite me as I have had to have a lower back
disc replaced and a disc fused. So now I prefer passive exercise like walking and swimming. I was brought up in a very sporty home with my dad being a NZ boxer. I played provincial representative rugby and I remember
my mum being the ladies Squash Club Champion and Ladies Golf Club Champion in the same year.
I also love a good Netflix movie or series and just pottering around my home, spending time with my family, albeit this is now usually in the form of watching grandkids playing sports. Of course, I love travelling which is limited these
days so just a nice staycation is always fun!
One of my other passions is organising events, like birthdays, special occasions, surprises, themed events for friends or family or friends of family.
How long have you been in this role?
I have been in this role for 8 months.
What attracted you to Feros Care / In Great Company?
The aged care not-for-profit sector has been a new experience for me, and I have learnt so much since I started with Feros Care in November 2019. I really resonated with the core values and culture of Feros Care and In Great Company which was the
What is the most satisfying part of your role?
I love working with the volunteer program as I can see how much impact the volunteers make on a senior client’s life. The stories from both sides are so heartfelt. It’s so lovely to hear about the connections that bring joy to someone’s
day. I also love the work-life balance my role provides whilst working in such a supportive team environment.
Can you please share with us one of your favourite stories about a client and volunteer?
Megan (volunteer) went to Ron’s home for an initial visit and Ron was very skeptical initially. He mentioned that they would not have anything in common due to the age difference. Megan spoke of her grandma and
he mentioned that he is not her grandma so why would they have anything in common. Megan broke through this barrier by saying that this doesn’t mean that they cannot have a friendship and share things.
Megan kept reiterating that she really wanted to be there as she felt he needed to know that. She also kept probing him and was very patient. Megan found out that Ron used to deliver bread and she was able to share that she also used
to go on bread runs with her father. She had then found the common ground and she said, “boy did we have the best time!” He now makes her promise to come back each week, so he is up, dressed and waiting for
her. In Megan’s words “I am so grateful to be matched with Ron.”
How valuable do you believe the In Great Company service is?
I think the volunteer program provides a real sense of value and fulfillment to both our senior clients and our volunteers. You don’t realise the difference that volunteers can makes in seniors’ lives until you hear
the feedback and the amazing stories. Being immersed in this program as part of the In Great Company Team is so rewarding and I love hearing and sharing the experiences.
Any last words or thoughts?
I am so proud of all our volunteers and to be a part of the team that facilitates happiness into the lives of our senior clients, especially in this crazy world out there at the moment. Do what you love and love what you do!