Wellsprings for Women has lost a treasured staff-member after months of illness.
Rose Elias 52, died on 16 March, leaving a legacy of a welcoming and caring nature and a smile that brightened everyone’s day.
About 50 members of Wellsprings held a tribute for Ms Elias on 19 March.
During the event, they shared stories and memories, speaking passionately about the impact she had on their lives.
Some spoke of how Ms Elias helped them out of isolation and to become happy and fulfilled women who were connected to the community.
“The Tribute was both a time to mourn Rose’s death and celebrate her life and legacy,” Wellsprings chief executive Dalal Smiley said.
“We certainly missed her so much especially at such a difficult time following the New Zealand tragedy, as she would have been the key person our participants would go to for comfort, reassurance and succour”.
Arriving in Australia in 1998, Ms Elias often said her family were the first South Sudanese to settle in Dandenong.
She started at Wellsprings on a placement as a community-development student, meeting the service’s founder Sister Ann Halpin.
Since 2005, Ms Elias had taken on various roles at Wellsprings including running the home visitation program, establishing the mentor program and providing one-to-one support.
“What stood out about Rose was her innate ability to make people feel welcomed, valued and loved,” Ms Smiley said.
“She had an unshaken determination to remain positive despite the difficulties that she encountered along the way.
“She was particularly gifted at lifting everyone’s mood from grumpiness to joy.”
Ms Elias was also heavily involved with her Sudanese community, especially with MaMa Land which helped settle South Sudanese families in Australia.
The MaMa Land women also raised funds to help families in South Sudan.
In her words, the name MaMa Land represented “the love of all people and the connection to the land”.
“The members of Mama Land care for land, and the children who are left behind,” Ms Elias said.