After retiring from a 28 year career in youth justice, Raelene Wlochowicz has been the driving force behind the establishment and ongoing management of the Playford Women’s Shed located in Davoren Park.
It was Michael, Raelene’s husband, who broached the subject of how she would preoccupy herself during retirement, something Raelene hadn’t yet considered.
“I immediately started looking for options to fill my time and found that there weren’t many choices that suited me,” said Raelene. “I noticed that a lot of retired women were meeting in malls for coffee and lunch, which isn’t an affordable option for everyone and it didn’t look comfortable. “Blokes had the Men’s Shed to go, they had a dedicated space, and I thought why isn’t there a Women’s Shed?”
From here the inspiration for the Playford Women’s Shed was born. With over 28 years’ experience working in State Government Raelene had an understanding of what would be involved in opening a women’s shed and importantly, she had the passion necessary to make it happen.
“I began writing a proposal for the Women’s Shed immediately, and a casual conversation with a barista at the Munno Para Donut King led to a meeting with two Playford Councillors. “And everything kind of fell into place from there,” recalled Raelene.
By chance, the old Para West Adult Campus in Davoren Park was identified as a suitable location for the proposed Playford Women’s Shed the following day. Through donations, $1,000 in grant funding from Awesome Foundation Adelaide, and the skills of a volunteer committee Raelene was able to rejuvenate an unused building at the school to become the first Women’s Shed in South Australia.
“We held a soft launch on International Women’s Day (March 8 2020), however a few weeks later we were forced to close due to the pandemic.”
Prior to its temporary closure the Playford’s Women Shed accrued 24 members, and today has almost 100. Raelene credits its success to a gap in the market and a particular need in the Playford community.
“A lot of the women who come to the Women’s Shed live alone and we help provide them with a purpose and social connections. “They can come here and learn new skills, or teach others news skills or simply enjoy an inexpensive meal with others."
We have created a space where everyone is welcome, free from judgement and can serve a purpose.
Coincidentally the establishment of the Playford’s Women Shed was born out of Raelene’s desire to provide a purpose and make use of her existing skills through retirement.
“I need to keep busy, be useful and wanted. “That’s why Michael wanted to know what I was going to do during retirement - so I wouldn’t drive him crazy.”
Raelene’s long hours and hard work establishing the Playford Women’s Shed was recognised on Tuesday, 26 January when she was awarded Citizen of the Year through the City of Playford’s Australia Day Awards.
“I’m stoked, I cannot believe I have been awarded Citizen of the Year. “I never expected anything like this when I started the Playford Women’s Shed, and I didn’t do it with anything like this in mind, it was just to fill a gap,” said Raelene.
Playford Women’s Shed
The Playford Women’s Shed provides a safe environment for socially isolated and vulnerable women to meet, build new skills, increase their confidence and develop community connections.
Offering meals, activities, or just somewhere to have a coffee, the Playford Women’s Shed is available to women of all ages, ethnicities, cultures, religions and backgrounds.
Upcoming Playford Women's Shed events:
Follow the Playford Women's Shed on Facebook to stay up-to-date on their upcoming programs and events. You can look forward to:
- Saturday, 27 February: Giant garage sale
- April: Fashion parade fundraiser (date to be confirmed)