Maryborough woman Joan Massingham is stepping aside after 50 years at the forefront of disability activism in the Wide Bay area, urging members of the local community to pick up the baton and drive forward change.
“My son Greg has worked at Endeavour Foundation Industries in Maryborough for 37 years. This has been worth more than a pot of gold to me,” Joan said.
With the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) set to give local people with a disability the opportunities they need and deserve, Joan said that while Endeavour Foundation runs in her ‘blood’, it’s time for her to step aside and encourage others to share their expertise and their passion.
“Back in 1964, myself, husband and three children attended the official opening of “Caringa” the first special school started by the Qld. Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association here in Maryborough. This association was only about twelve years old, and started by a group of mothers in Brisbane, giving their ‘special’ children a chance for a normal life. The name change to Endeavour Foundation came about 35 years later.
“Back in 1968 my Down Syndrome son, Gregory, started school here with a most wonderful school teacher, named Mrs. Lawson and a Mrs. Joan Miller was her assistant. There were at least 20 children at this school - these were happy years for the children, and we as parents were called upon to raise funds to help pay for the building and the teacher’s wages, etc.
“For years we collected rags, bottles, newspapers and clothing, from all over Maryborough. We ran Balls, Art Union Raffles, Telethons, Fetes, Bi- weekly pub raffles, Baby Shows and Miss Toddler and Teen Shows. We worked hard to earn each dollar.
“After about 15 years, the older school children were leaving school, with nowhere to go! The decision was made to build a workshop for them to transfer across to, and with the wonderful help from volunteers of the Jaycee Men’s Service Club, enough money was raised to build the first level of the building, quickly followed by the second floor downstairs.
“Work began with cutting rags, making crab-pots, crushing bottles, weighing potatoes and onions, and packing newspapers into a bale. After a few short years, the third and fourth section of flooring was added, making the Endeavour Foundation Industries facility into what it is today.”
Endeavour Foundation Chief Executive Andrew Donne said that Joan is a true champion for people with a disability.
“Joan leaves behind a legacy of advocacy, having dedicated her life to the continual improvement of services in the Maryborough region, for not only her son Gregory but many local people with a disability and their families. Joan’s passion and dedication has been extraordinary, and we offer her our sincere thanks.
Having committed her life to improving opportunities for people with a disability – and been a volunteer supporter of Endeavour Foundation for 50 years – Joan hopes that the 2018 roll-out of the NDIS will be a game changer for local people.