Like so many in the “garden city” of Victoria, Monica Turner loves nothing more than getting her hands dirty in the garden; enjoying the results of her labour as tiny shoots bloom into beautiful flowers.
Monica has channelled her passion into a part-time business that not only supplements her retirement income, it lets her do something else she loves - helping people. Along with giving her elderly clients a hand in their gardens, Monica takes them shopping or does other errands. She also provides child care, and loves bringing the kids outside to dig up weeds and search out worms and bugs.
“I’m out in the garden all the time,” she says. “Since I sold my own house, I’ve discovered that I can do anybody’s garden and it’s just as satisfying.”
Monica’s nurturing and generous spirit can be seen in her approach to philanthropy. Despite the fact that she lives on a limited income, Monica believes in giving back.
“It’s important to me to support the groups that nourish my soul,” she says. It’s like a plant that can grow from the smallest of seeds. “You don’t have to be wealthy to be a philanthropist. Even if you can just give a little bit, you get so much in return.”
Knowledge Network is one of the organizations Monica chooses to support, as an annual donor and by leaving a bequest in her will. Her association with Knowledge began years ago, when it was still the Open Learning Agency (OLA). Monica credits the OLA’s television-based courses with setting her on course to obtaining a university degree in Humanities late in life.
“Before, I never had the courage or the opportunity to go to university. Taking those courses let me see that it was really fun to learn,” she says.
These days, she really appreciates the quality of programming on Knowledge. “There’s such variety, and so much of it is connected with what I learned while doing my degree, like history and the British monarchy.” She also loves all the mysteries and dramas.
For Monica, it’s important to be a Knowledge Partner, and to support the programming she enjoys so much. But she gets something more out of it too: a sense of belonging. “You feel like a bit of a community and that’s what I like about it the best,” she explains. “I think Knowledge Network is a real treasure. It’s like when you have a public green space, and people take care of it - it’s just something we need to do.”