In the bag: Local legend recognised for quiet crusade of compassion

One Wagga midwife and specialist nurse has made it her mission to provide dignity to the region's most vulnerable.

For the past few years, Mavic Gaff-Smith has supplied Wagga Women’s Health Centre with more than 1000 handbags, filled with personal care items.

While the gesture may seem small to some, centre manager Gail Meyer said to women impacted by domestic violence, it could mean the world.

It is for this reason the Wagga woman was nominated for a Community Volunteer Certificate of Appreciation.

Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr presented the award on Thursday afternoon as part of a freshly launched Local Legends initiative.

Although not technically an official volunteer, Ms Meyer said the kindness and compassion Nurse Gaff-Smith shared was invaluable to the centre and its clients.

“There are a lot of people who are really excited and keen to join a cause and help out with charities and initiative, but when life gets in the way that enthusiasm can fade,” Ms Meyer said.

“Not for Mavis.

“She goes that extra mile.”

Ms Meyer said the gift of what was often a brand new handbag, ensured women, who were were struggling and combating poverty, were shown a touch of humanity.

Nurse Gaff-Smith, who recently returned to Wagga from Ethiopia, said just wanted to help people.

“I was going through the supermarket one day and the lady at the checkout asked me why I was buying so many products,” Nurse Gaff-Smith said.

“When I explained, the lady said she had been homeless too, but had been offered non-branded products. She said: ‘It made me feel nameless, like I wasn’t worth a name’.

“I buy branded products because everyone has a name. Everyone deserves a name. That’s important.”

Wagga MP Dr McGirr said residents like Ms Gaff-Smith were the reason he launched the Local Legends program this year.

“I want to recognise those who go above and beyond to build their communities and improve the lives of others,” Dr McGirr said.

“It’s one of my favourite things to do in this role.
“What Mavis is doing to help women in need, without hope of recognition, is nothing short of legendary. “Can I just say thank you and well done.”