Longmore, Riverbank juvenile prisons among others was the main topic of discussion with John, who’s now retired after decades of serving our youth.
Retirement should be eliminated from our vocab, the moment we stop giving is the moment we start dying
John is in his mid 70s and shares that he is soul searching when he goes for his one hour walks in the mornings.
His life work sounds like a war zone and still he looks for ways to be an encouragement.
Currently he arranges a champagne breakfast with a few of his mates every few weeks. He picks awkward subjects that men rarely talk about.
“Tom, you have to get men talking, they bottle up stuff for decades. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have taken their lives and we didn’t even see the signs”
These days he explains he’s far more in tune with people around him and feels connected due to his openness about his own struggles, he now recognises it more clearly in others.
I shared with John about some of my work which is at the other end of the spectrum. I often deal with abusers while John has mainly dealt with the abused. It’s a constant desire to show men that they can be open about their weaknesses and strengths. I love seeing men feel genuine love and care, (most men wouldn’t recognise love if it punched them in the face). I gave John an example of a campaign we did within a Construction company to nurture love called ‘run for a friend ;’
John got it and laughed, he tells me his latest subject in these champagne breakfasts was on love. John asked the question to a bunch of grumpy old men “What does love mean to you?”
John tells me it was a very awkward breakfast, but the blokes genuinely loved it.
The world can do with a few more blokes like John. Men in their 70s that still feel they have something to give and quietly go about and do it.
I asked John if he was interested in doing a talk about his journey and he looks at me like a typical Aussie. “I don’t know about that”
I said to John, “That’s why you’d be perfect, you do what you do because that’s who you are and young people can get a lot from your simple acts of service”
Society’s quiet heroes are everywhere, just like John, just like these young heroes serving within Perth’s Construction game.