By Jessica Howard
In 1985, Dawn Lewin popped into the Bacchus Marsh St Vincent de Paul Op Shop to buy a white collared shirt and left as a volunteer.
The Bacchus Marsh resident spent the following three-decades overlooking extensions, running the store and helping to build a business that has provided welfare to many Bacchus Marsh families.
Mrs Lewin retired from the little Manor Street shed on October 20 this year.
“It’s a strange feeling,” she said.
“I don’t know what I’ll do with myself now… when I first walked in to the old shed I was asked if I wanted to volunteer for one week, and that soon turned into four-to-five days a week, every week”.
When Mrs Lewin first joined the team at St Vincent de Paul’s, the shed had no sorting room, meaning the floor was filled with dozens of boxes of donated items and trinkets.
“Later, an extra shed was built and we were able to sort through donations separately,” she said.
“That was good because the shed became more of a store”.
Mrs Lewin recalled a number of amusing memories over the years, including the delivery of an old wooden wardrobe.
“Someone bought the big old thing from the shop so we [Mrs Lewin and fellow volunteer Ruth Tudball] popped it on this little trolley and pushed it all the way down the road,” she said.
“We received some pretty interesting donations over the years and have dressed young kids for school book weeks and people for weddings. We even dressed a bride and her mother once”.
Mrs Lewin said it was the genuine people and great atmosphere that kept her around for 32-years.
“It was always a bit of fun at the shed. I met so many nice people and I couldn’t have done it without the other volunteers there.
“Everyone goes through their own problems and I know when my husband fell ill or I had troubles of my own, working at the store really helped me mentally.
“I also like helping people and a lot of customers would come in for a chat and I think that relieved them a bit; they felt comfortable and they kept coming back”.
Anette Marum, President of the Bacchus Marsh St Vincent de Paul Op Shop, said people would often visit the shed just to catch up with Mrs Lewin.
“They will miss her friendship, advice, comfort and support,” she said.
“Dawn’s retirement is a sad loss and when she handed over the keys to the shed you could see a look of wistfulness in her eyes, but she has been working for so long and St Vincent de Paul, together with many people in the town, thank her for her tireless work”.
Mrs Lewin’s retirement comes at the same time that the opportunity shop relocates to Grant Street. Stock will be transported to the new store in time for the official opening on Thursday November 23.