Our Office Coordinators
Once upon a time, a long, long while ago – I often used to visit a place in Albert Park known as “The U3APP Office”. Perhaps you remember it too? The Mary Kehoe Centre was then a bustling, sociable place crowded with smiling friends and neighbours intent on sharing their experiences and broadening intellectual horizons. In daydreams I can imagine us back there, but then the vision fades …
Bev Fryer had been a member of U3A for only a short time when Renate Mattiske wrangled her into becoming an Office Coordinator early in 2016. Very happily, her first job-sharing partner in this was Margo Anderson, and for almost two years they worked together. When Margo stepped back, Meredith Mancini came on board for nearly a year. Early in 2019 Pauline Amos was joint coordinator until she was enticed back to part-time work with an employer who had come to realise how much they were missing her. But there are depths of talent at U3APP, and Lois Best very fortuitously agreed to share the job with Bev. They have continued to collaborate through the COVID-19 lockdown.
The position description for Office Coordinator is pretty elastic. Broadly it requires someone to keep a close eye on activities which are auspiced by U3APP at the Mary Kehoe Centre and other locations, with the aim of ensuring that tutors, members and volunteers all have a positive experience. An understanding of policies and systems is also needed. One day is never quite the same as the one that went before! Is equipment and furniture ready in all class rooms? Apologies recorded? Photocopier on? Fresh milk in the fridge? Members’ queries answered? Parking permits all accounted for? Phone messages answered promptly? Ceiling fans switched off? Emails getting through? Enough trained office volunteers for the roster?
The Coordinators delegate a lot, and rely a great deal on people with specific expertise, such as the IT wizards. Happily, the team of 25 or so Office Volunteers – the people you meet at the reception desk – are resourceful, adaptable and generous, very much imbued with a ‘can do’ approach. After the closure of Mary Kehoe Centre in mid-March, phone calls and emails to the office have been efficiently monitored by a roster of OVs from home. In second term they made outreach phone calls to over 150 members who had not been participating in courses after Mary Kehoe Centre was closed. Now here we are on the brink of Term 4, and whatever shape our program takes in weeks and months ahead, you can be sure that the OVs will be ready to help make it happen. And when we put out a call for new people on the team, perhaps you will be ready to volunteer!
Bev’s working career was firstly as a secondary school teacher in English and languages, in Australia and UK. With small children underfoot she freelanced as an editor with a number of publishers, then – thanks to Gough Whitlam’s retraining initiative – studied for a post-graduate diploma in office management. Administrative roles followed at Prahran College, the Victorian Institute of Colleges, Council of Adult Education, Caulfield Institute and Monash University involving student/faculty administration, fundraising & development, alumni liaison. Along the way, more study in personnel administration. In short, plenty of people contact in interesting settings. She and her husband Colin are keen independent travellers who have visited 44 countries, and share a love of music, theatre, cryptic crosswords and the South Melbourne Market.
Lois started her working life in WA as a telephonist (remember when that was a thing?) receptionist, then left work to bring up children. She came to her second career, teaching, in her 40s and still teaches English as Another Language, Literacy, and teaches an ‘Intro to EAL Tutoring’ short course in the Learn Local sector.
Study took her to live in China to learn the language and later teaching took her to live in Japan to hone her teaching skills. The lure of expected grandchildren (both of whom are teenagers now) brought her back to Australia, eventually to Albert Park where she discovered U3APP. Our wonderful Member Liaison Officer, Jill Hearman, made sure she felt welcomed enough to become involved both in classes and volunteering. She will step down from the Committee of Management this year after serving for 3 years.
An ‘emerging writer’ she attends the Creative Writing Group at U3APP. She is addicted to entering writing competitions and has twice been awarded in the Port Phillip Seniors Writing Awards “Port Phillip Writes”.
By Bev Fryer