From The Windmill – A Journal of the Diverse Voices of Women  

Hi, my name is Rosetta Ogrizek. I was born in Melbourne, Australia, to Italian migrants who arrived in Australia in the mid-1950s. I was an only child, and we first lived in Port Melbourne then moved to Box Hill when I was two years old. We would make a lot of homemade products when growing up such as wine, salami, sausages, preserving vegetables such as olives, and making Passata, as well as drying herbs from our garden such as oregano, bay leaves and garlic. We raised chickens and rabbits to eat, and most of our backyard was full of fruit and vegetables. After completing high school, I attended La Trobe University and got a science degree and then became a qualified teacher. I started teaching Maths/Science in 1987 at ‘Footscray Girls High School’, which later became ‘Gilmore College for Girls’. 

I moved to Hoppers Crossing, after marrying my husband John in 2003. I continued to work until the end of 2006, after which I had two children. I had taught for 20 years and it was a wonderful part of my life. I went on family leave and focussed on raising my two children and volunteering and completed some further studies. 

In 2012, my volunteering journey began when I joined the Truganina Community Group as Assistant Secretary. We had built a bigger house in Truganina and had moved to the area late 2011 so I wanted to be part of this new group. We organised some community events including an open day at Arndell Park Community Centre. 

The following year my daughter started primary school, so I decided to join the Parents’ and Friends’ Committee as well as become a parent-helper in the classroom. I also was a member of my son’s Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Arndell Park Committee. Then in April 2013 I had to take over the role as Treasurer of the Arndell Park Committee due to a resignation. Consequently, I had to leave the primary school committee as my responsibilities at the Kindergarten was too great and I couldn’t do both, but still assisted as a parent-helper throughout the rest of that year. I loved working with the Kindergarten staff and Council workers. I did feel a huge responsibility on my shoulder. At the end of that year there was a wind-up of all parent committees throughout Wyndham Kindergartens, so all the paperwork had to be completed, lodged with the accountant and archived at Council. It was a massive job for me, but I learnt so much from it. 

In 2014, I re-joined the Parents’ and Friends’ Committee as Assistant Secretary and then became Secretary the following year till the end of 2017. I was involved in running and assisting in many fund-raisers for the primary school. In February 2014, I decided I needed to do more exercise and so joined a Heart Foundation Walking Group, of which I became the leader shortly after. We met once a week and walked from the Arndell Park Community Centre for an hour, and then had a social chat and drink afterwards. I ran the Group till December that year, but it then folded as no-one wanted to take it over unfortunately. 

During 2014, I decided I wanted to complete some further studies and completed a Teacher Aide/Education Support certificate. I also took over as Playgroup Co-ordinator at St. James’ Parish during Term Three, firstly running it on my own and then with the assistance of another lady named Angela. So, 2014 turned out to be quite a busy year for me. I resigned from teaching officially at the end of that year as I wanted to look at getting a Teacher Aide position, but at the time there weren’t any suitable local part-time positions, so I have continued to co-ordinate Playgroup until now. I have enjoyed organising activities for pre-school children and meeting lots of lovely parents and grandparents that are part of the Parish. 

At the Teacher Aide course, I met Tania, where our friendship began. I then ran into her and her sister Beverly at a new network that started late 2014 called the Wyndham Health Champions’ Network. We were put together by the Council. We were part of this network until the end of 2018, when it was wound-up. I was Secretary of this network and I formed many friendships through connecting with other like-minded people in our community.  

During 2015 I had the opportunity to run a pop-up café called Social Bites at Iramoo Community Centre on a Wednesday for a couple of terms. I was supervising young adults with special needs who would assist me in preparing and serving food. I would have to look in the fridge to decide what soup we could make that day and then do a batch of muffins, soup, bread, salad and toasties, as well as coffee and tea. After that we had to clean up, and I had to pick my kids up from school thereafter, so by then I was exhausted. It was challenging, but a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the customer service. 

I was nominated for my volunteering services for 2014, and recognised by local MP Joanne Ryan in 2018, receiving a volunteering award for the Women’s Group/Health Champions’ work, which I was honoured to receive. 

Nowadays I still volunteer at my kids’ school, but also attend the Wyndham Women’s Support Group that Tania runs. 

It has been a busy time for me volunteering since my children started Kindergarten and then school, with so many opportunities that have come along, and meeting many people along the way. I have learnt so much from every single person I have met.   

We will see what 2020 will bring as my eldest starts high school.