Vicky Scott is a bundle of energy with connections to countless community groups, but her favourite place is somewhere calm and peaceful, with maybe a little touch of Mr Darcy to perk things up. John Lewis spoke to the Mooroopna livewire whose glass is always half-full.
The new coronavirus social distancing rules are particularly hard for someone like Vicky Scott.
Vicky is more than your regular people person - she’s a self-confessed “hugger”.
As community development co-ordinator at Shepparton’s Lighthouse Foundation, the 49-year-old spends her time getting close to people and delivering her own special vaccine to life’s ills - energy and happiness.
She recently worked with Mooroopna Park Primary School to set up its food program which employs a chef to deliver healthy snacks and cook lunch for 155 students every school day.
She has also helped give Mooroopna Primary School students a glimpse of real life with visits to workplaces such as Plunkett orchards and the Mooroopna Education and Activity Centre.
When this year’s bushfires ravaged communities across Australia, Vicky got to work and helped raise $50 000 with a one-off fundraising concert starring Shepparton-born performer Adam Thompson at The Peppermill in Kialla.
Earlier in the year she helped organise and bump-in vendors at Mooroopna’s New Year celebrations at the John Gray Oval. Then she was MC for the event, which surprisingly gave her stage fright.
Then there’s the Mother’s Day Classic fun run, the annual East Shepparton Bowls Club Oaks Day fundraiser, and the Rotary Club of Mooroopna – the list of Vicky’s community contributions goes on.
For the Oaks Day function, her rise through the volunteer ranks was swift.
“I started in the kitchen, then I got promoted to waitress. Then I got promoted to MC, working alongside Warwick Long from the ABC,” she says with a laugh.
Somehow, it’s no surprise to learn that Vicky is also an aerobics instructor.
“When you’re up in front of 20 people at 6 am and they all look at you with that face that says "really?" – you have to lift them up. The secret is - don’t try and be someone you’re not. Just be yourself. Then you get going, and you get a lift as well and everyone feels fabulous,” she says.
But her heart lies in working with young people through the Lighthouse programs.
“They see a lot of people who are volunteering – and they get to understand that things don’t just happen on their own. And they learn about the importance of being part of a community,” Vicky says.
Vicky was born in Mooroopna and grew up playing sport and helping her father John with his horses stabled at the town’s trotting track.
“A big part of my life was after school helping dad to feed the horses and I played netball from Grade 3 – go the Mighty Oranges!” she says.
Married at 26, she moved to Melbourne for a few years but returned to her hometown 20 years ago, single and free.
She worked for Goulburn Valley Water for eight years in community engagement and as a business projects co-ordinator.
In 2015 she completed a Fairley Leadership Program which increased her already deep social networks.
“It came at the right time and totally changed my life,” she says.
“The program introduced me to the Lighthouse – up until then I didn’t really have a true appreciation of what community really is,” she says.
Vicky reckons human connection is the oil that makes the world go around – that and kindness.
“I do like to take the time to engage and have a real conversation. As I get older I realise it’s so important to listen with intent and be genuine. I think – if you’ve got that skill then use it.
She's a terror at the supermarket.
“I do love supermarkets. I go there for one thing, but I'm always there for half an hour,” she says.
Which is why these times of self-isolation are so difficult – but naturally, Vicky is making virtual lemonade out of lemons.
“My work colleagues are amazing. We have virtual coffee catch-ups at 10 am every day and we chat about everything. They are like an extension of my family,” she says.
To demonstrate her determination to keep connected, Vicky insists our interview is done via FaceTime.
She gives me a virtual tour of her newly-renovated Mooroopna home.
“This bookshelf is where the bathroom used to be and this hallway used to be the back door – and now this is my favourite place – my new bathroom. Where the bath is, used to be a chimney,” she says spinning her phone camera around.
“When I pull up my driveway and walk inside my house, I feel a big sense of calmness. I love coming home – it’s my space,” she says.
Suddenly, a fluffy black and white bundle of energy skittles into view.
“That’s Darcy – you know, from Pride and Prejudice. Everyone needs a Mr Darcy in their life,” she says.
Mr Darcy gets a cuddle and a giggle. Isolation isn’t so bad after all.