A day in the life of Our House Port Augusta coordinator Melodie Watts

VOLUNTEER: Coordinator of Our House Port Augusta Inc. Melodie Watts (left, standing) with members of the club. She has dedicated 17 years of service to Our House.
VOLUNTEER: Coordinator of Our House Port Augusta Inc. Melodie Watts (left, standing) with members of the club. She has dedicated 17 years of service to Our House.

A TYPICAL Thursday morning for Melodie Watts consists of an early wake up, followed by a trip to Woolworths to decide what to cook for lunch, before arriving at Our House Port Augusta Inc. at about 8.30am.

Melodie, Coordinator of Our House, has dedicated over 17 years of voluntary service to the club, helping people who suffer from mental health issues.

Thursday is cook-up day at Our House, with Melodie taking charge of the kitchen in an effort to feed all the members.

“Lunch is always ready before 10am, that way I can sit and council and help anybody that needs a hand with anything between 10am and 12pm, then we eat lunch,” Melodie said.

“I’m usually here between 8:30am and 3:30pm on a Thursday every week, keeping the club going and making sure everyone is safe.”

Foodbank supplies Our House with the bulk of its food, while Melodie purchases the necessities and additional ingredients for Thursday lunches.

With her Certificate IV in Mental Health and a Diploma of Community Housing, Melodie said she can always tell if the club members are not travelling well.

”I’m here to help them and I can see when they’re having trouble,” she said.

”Having worked with mental health for such a long time, I can catch them before they go too far, get them to a doctor and by doing that we have kept them out of hospital, so it has been working really well.”

Apart from an eight-month period several years ago, Melodie has always worked on a voluntary basis for Our House.

Melodie said she is qualified to get a paid job in mental health, but her passion for Our House – which stemmed from having two sisters with mental illnesses – will keep her at the club ‘until the end’.

“At the end of the day I feel like I’ve helped somebody and that is always very satisfying,” she said.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished a full days work and everyone leaves here with very full bellies and they’re happy.

“I’ve been so lucky in my life and I'd like them to be just as happy.”

The club is also open from 9:30am for coffee mornings on Mondays and craft sessions on Tuesdays. Melodie said Our House is a place for people to be themselves and not be judged.

“Our members come from all walks of life. The clubhouse is open to anyone that has a mental illness, anybody that is isolated, and also people with depression and people that have just lost a partner,” she said.

“You don’t have to be referred, you can self refer yourself. As long as you're not a danger to the others, we'll have you.”

To volunteer for Our House, call 0427 563 627.

This story A day in the life of Melodie first appeared on The Transcontinental.