Fundraising stalwart calls it quits after 44 years

Amelia Erasmus served on the fundraising committee of Lilyhaven Old Aged Home for 44 years.

Amelia Erasmus has finally called it a day, after dedicating 44 years of her life serving on the fundraising committee of the Lilyhaven Old Aged Home in Bonteheuwel.

The Ottery resident was introduced to Lilyhaven by her late husband’s sister-in-law, and on her first visit, she was taken aback by the great need at the facility.

This was more than enough motivation for her to take up a role in the fundraising committee.

“The first time I came here, it was sad. At that time, part of the home was destroyed by a fire, and two residents also died in that fire. There was lots to be done, and there was a lack of finances. A group of us quickly got organised and we called ourselves the Flamingo Fundraising Committee. We used the funds to upgrade the facility and to take the seniors on outings,” Ms Erasmus said.

Over the years, she has worked with several matrons and managers, and she has fond memories of all those who she has worked with.

Ms Erasmus is a former shop steward and worked as a supervisor in the clothing industry when she was not arranging fundraisers for the home. She even roped in her late husband, Ronald Erasmus, on some of the chores needed for the home over the years.

“I remember the first outing we had. We went to the navy base and one of the seniors, who was wheelchair-bound, leapt for joy when he saw a shipping vessel. It was the first time he had seen a ship, both his legs were amputated and he jumped so high, that he fell off his wheelchair. We also went to Silverstream beach, just outside Atlantis, and also a weekend away at Langebaan. With all of these, we had an absolute wonderful time and most of the seniors didn’t want to come back,” Ms Erasmus said.

Besides fundraisers and outings, Ms Erasmus also arranged special events for the seniors at the home.

“On Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, I used to get them little gifts, and let them enjoy olden time music. It was sometimes so sad to see the seniors in the home, as I cared for both my parents when they needed me. I did not put them in a home, where they seldom get visitors. I remember one lady used to sit with a doll all the time. When they took that doll away from her, she died shortly after that. It is very sad to see some of them so lonely, that is why I always tried to make things special for them – either outside, or inside the home. One year my husband connected beautiful Christmas lights to uplift their spirits,” Ms Erasmus said.

As time passed, Ms Erasmus was known for throwing among the best snack dances. Both she and her late husband were good ballroom dancers, so it was easy for Ms Erasmus to use what she enjoyed – dance – to raise funds.

“I used to go to the big chain shops and ask for donations. I would get the cheese, beers and wine, as well as the prizes we used to give, all from donations. My dances became so popular, that I had supporters who would come all the way from Paarl, Strand and Stellenbosch. I always saw to it that the dances were very well advertised. Apart from my fundraising skills, I was also quite the entertainer. Up until today, I walk up straight and still wear high heels,” said Ms Erasmus, who refused to reveal her age, except to say that people of her age, use walking sticks to get around.

Part of her retirement plan is to move to George, and she is excited about this new chapter in her life.