JOAN Grace has lived by the motto ‘there but for the grace of God go I’.
Mrs Grace was yesterday named Warrnambool senior of the year.
She was one of four nominated for the award, along with Alby Clarke, Alex Gannaway and Lorna Thwaites.
In 1981, after regular visits to Brierly, Mrs Grace formed the Francis Foundation to provide services for mental health patients needing guidance and care after their initial treatment.
In the 1990s, Mrs Grace founded the Francis Foundation Opportunity Shop in Port Fairy.
She was also a founding committee member of Aspire in 1989 and has held the position of president.
Mrs Grace told The Standard she was inspired to continue her work because of the satisfaction she got from it.
“What inspires you is what keeps you going and what makes you feel good,” she said.
“The work you do provides a smile to someone else. But that comes back to you tenfold.
“When you give, you give a whole lot of yourself.”
Earlier this year, Mrs Grace received the Order of Australia medal, was named the Warrnambool Business Awards volunteer of the year last year and received the Member of Parliament’s award at the National Volunteer Awards.
“I’m overwhelmed by it, I really am,” Mrs Grace said.
“You don’t set out for any accolades. I’m very humbled.
“I do need to pay respect to the volunteers who have made this possible though.”
Mrs Grace said she encouraged anyone in the community thinking of volunteering to put their hand up.
“Don’t hesitate,” she said.
“There is a niche for you. What I do isn’t for everyone but there are so many different organisations crying out for help.”
The senior of the year award was presented at the Lighthouse Theatre as part of the month-long Celebrage Seniors Festival.
Co-ordinator Mary McLeod said dozens of other hard-working and quiet achievers stood among the nominees.