She’s just joined us and the era of social distancing is a testing time to be new on the front line at a very hands-on community services organisation. Sydney Community Services is so busy that Mary Gabrielli is already doing just about everything after only a few weeks as Administration Officer at our Hunters Hill Community Hub.

She manages accounts for all our services – disability services for eight groups, flexible respite, bus hire, Seniors’ Hub and individual social support including medical transport, accompanied shopping or other errands, plus liaison with people arriving at reception seeking hardship assistance.

“And I’m accepting food and grocery parcels for the extra food drive we have on at the moment,” she says. “I like that it’s busy and there’s a huge variety of tasks. There’s a lot of things that are urgent, given the circumstances we’re in,” she says.

She’s hardly had a spare moment to herself but Mary has noticed the team spirit at Sydney Community Services.

“Everyone knows their job and does it, but everyone here helps each other out. I keep telling my family how wonderful all the staff are,” she says.

Mary comes from a finance background, mainly mortgage broking and she has also worked at Eastwest Physio in Hunters Hill and recently at Bayswater Gardens aged-care facility. She has empathy for people facing the challenges of later life, disabilities, and financial hardship – as well as corona virus.

“Sadly, both my husband and I have lost our mothers but my father-in-law lives with us and has for 20 years. I see a lot of my father too and help him out. I have empathy with older people and people with disabilities – having known my husband’s brother who had cerebral palsy through measles and was taken at just 21,” she says.

“Once you’ve experienced those things, loss of loved ones, family members with huge challenges, then you develop empathy with others. Also,  my husband’s family is in Italy, so we’re hearing some intensely upsetting stories from there due to the virus.”

Outside work, Mary loves family time, gym time  (and is devastated that gyms are closed), and cooking Italian and Croatian recipes from her own and her husband’s heritage.  Their children are in their twenties and two are away including a daughter in the United Arab Emirates and son in the army in Queensland. As well as being empathetic, she’s accepting of the many changes we’re all suddenly facing.

“When my daughter went to Dubai, it was a good place to get work as a pilot!” she says. “And my son trained as a medic in the army so he might be called on for – well, these days, just about anything.”

Mary  Gabrielli is based at our Hunters Hill Community Hub which runs seniors’ day program and activities for eight groups of people with disabilities plus our community visiting and accompanied activities programs. For information phone 9427 6425 or see