Vita Garber – making life sweeter for Norwood’s residents

28 June 2019

As one recent Norwood advert put it: “Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give is your time.” So it is especially heartwarming that, every year, more than 1,500 people part with this most precious commodity – and volunteer for Norwood.

The role of a volunteer is as varied as the volunteers themselves. Take Vita Garber. Vita is a retired legal executive who could just as easily put her feet up and enjoy her golden years with her husband, son, daughter and eight grandchildren. Instead, every Monday, Vita gets in her car and drives across town to Norwood’s Woodcock Dell residential service in Kenton, Harrow. Here, she becomes “Vita the minibus driver”, ferrying people in wheelchairs to Hendon for reflexology sessions.

“We used to live in Kenton,” Vita says, “and when Woodcock Dell opened, about 25 years ago, our shul contacted us to ask if we might want to help out there. As a result of that, I and my husband, who was a social worker, would go there to visit people and sometimes they would come to us for afternoon tea.”

The bus-driving opportunity came later, after Vita bumped into the manager of Woodcock Dell one day in the street about 10 years ago. ”I’d driven a minibus occasionally before for another Jewish charity,” she says.

Vita is keen to point out that she does this because she enjoys it. The residents greet her with smiles; she makes food for them at Jewish festivals; she feels very much a part of the Woodcock Dell family. She is also keen to support the amazing staff who look after the eight residents with such love and devotion.

“I’d miss it greatly if I had to give it up,” says this active septuagenarian. “I’ve reached the age where the DVLA needs me to renew my driving licence every three years and I have to attend a minibus driving refresher course and have a medical to keep the enhancement on my licence. I’ve just had that and passed, which is lovely, as I really want to do this for as long as I possibly can.”

To read more about the varied volunteering opportunities we have to offer, click here.