In my last blog I spoke about the enthusiasm, energy and smiling faces of new members who were enjoying their first taste of the Tea Rooms experience and how optimistic it makes me feel for the future of CWA. I met Janine as we came out of the train station at Olympic Park and in her words, “she hitched her wagon to mine” to find the show office and eventually the Tea Rooms, to start her first volunteer shift. We chatted along the way and her eagerness was quite infectious and provided a fantastic start to the day – so much so that I almost asked if she could bottle it and provide me with a dose of two! Instead I invited her to submit her thoughts for a guest blog spot so that she could also share with you her infectious passion for the Country Women’s Association.
“I Can’t Knit!”
This is a disclaimer I often use in CWA meetings, at market stalls and life in general. It is almost an apology at times … but I can crochet, embroider, sew and bake. I am allowed to not knit. I have had people look at me in disbelief over the last 12 months, both at the thought of me being a CWA lady and that I, again, can’t knit. Their responses range from “But don’t you have to be OLD to be CWA?” to “Isn’t that what they do – knitting?” and my favourite “Are you allowed to wear your pinup clothes and red lipstick to meetings?” YOU BET I AM!!
I thought the CWA was out of reach for me because I worked full time, until I discovered the many groups and branches on Facebook. I started stalking them, liking posts and discovered EVENING BRANCHES! Oh yes – there may be a chance for me yet. I checked my local branches for meeting dates, worked out which fit into my schedule and bingo – Hawkesbury Evening Branch ticked all of my boxes.
My first meeting was a little daunting. I had come straight from work and was quite nervous. I checked my lipstick, put my biggest smile on and proceeded to freak out internally … within 2 minutes I realised how wrong I was. I could not have fallen into a more friendly, welcoming and wonderful group of ladies. By the time my butt hit a chair I had a cuppa in my hand and was being greeted and introduced to ladies that I am now proud to call my friends.
I have attended markets stalls, contributed baked goods, helped with garage sales and Devonshire Tea and laughed my way through craft evenings. I was nominated as Handicrafts Officer in October 2015 and my boss at work thought it fitting to give me a knitted beanie as my congratulatory gift … a reminder about my non-skill!
The pinnacle of my newbie first year in CWA has definitely been volunteering at The Royal Easter Show in the CWA Tea Rooms. I have never seen a more efficient, well run enterprise that was so full of love and chaotic fun. Every single person was there because they wanted to be and you could tell. I was there for the two busiest days – Good Friday and Easter Saturday – so it was a baptism of fire for this newbie. I filled countless teapots of hot water, cleaned trays, cleared tables, prepared cups, filled plates with jam & cream and served hot scones to our beautiful patrons. I loved every minute of talking to the ladies, hearing stories about how many years they had worked in the tea rooms, meeting new friends from all over the state and learning how fast I can move when I needed to. Perhaps my favourite part of the Show experience was talking to our customers – hearing about the first time at the show, the grown men that can’t go past a scone, and the legacy of the CWA scone tradition being carried through generations. There was not a single complaint about waiting for a scone over the two days that I was there, and nobody left the line when they were told there would be a wait.
From my 6 am train ride in on my first day to signing off on my second full day of volunteering, I can safely say with a full heart that I have found my people … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.