A quiet generosity

Despite decades of charitable work in the community, Gisborne’s Elaine Millar “never in a million years” expected to be named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In fact, in her surprise, she almost didn’t reply to confirmation correspondence from the Governor General’s office.
“When I first read it, I thought, ‘this isn’t right, it must be a scam’, and I very nearly deleted it,” she laughs.
A second pair of eyes confirmed the email’s legitimacy but, even so, the humble Elaine admitted to some reservations in accepting the OAM honour.
“It crossed my mind not to accept it because I felt like I was ‘just me’. I didn’t know that what I had done over the years was exceptional in any way but then other people have seen it differently,” she says.
A committed member of St Paul’s Anglican’s Church, Gisborne, Elaine has served as secretary/office manager for about 20 years, opportunity shop coordinator, Mission Auxiliary secretary for 30 years and St Paul’s Guild president for 20 years.
Her generosity and dedication has also spread beyond the church community, but she says she “likes to do things in a quiet way”.
Elaine has been Vision Australia Fundraising Auxiliary secretary/treasurer for 20 years, Anglicare for 30 years and is also a proof reader for the Gisborne Gazette.
She says each role has brought its own joy but one of the most satisfying initiatives was establishing the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Box Appeal in Gisborne about 15 years ago.
Shoeboxes are filled with gifts and all kinds of goods for disadvantaged children overseas.
“This house gets taken up with boxes,” she says, “and I’m always collecting goods throughout the year to fill them.
“I may not be able to do a lot of things but I want to continue doing that for as long as I can because I get so much joy out of packing love into a box for someone.
“I believe that in giving you receive and there’s a great feeling of satisfaction in giving back to the community.”
Along the way, Elaine says she’s always had the support of her husband Graeme, who some around town may know as ‘Mr Gisborne’. They share the same values and sense of community-mindedness. Graeme was too honoured with an OAM, several years ago.
“He’s my back-up, my rock. We’re a pretty good team. I’m very blessed to have to have his support,” she says.
Elaine and Graeme have been sharing their generous spirits with the community for 44 years and there’s no sign of stopping yet.

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