Carol Jones

Living in Maple Circle has its challenges. Most of them are stereotypes.

“You must find the funny side, otherwise you will cry”

Carol Jones looks for humour in everything. She is a glass-half-full kind of person. Her laugh is loud, her eyes are bright and her smile is the proudest. Carol’s life has been far from easy; she has been homeless, hopeless and lost everything. In spite of this, or perhaps because of this, she is stronger than most.

Schizophrenia is not talked about often. It’s even lesser understood. Help is fleeting. So are allies. Carol’s son lives with this condition and she is his full time carer. The road has been long and tough. Little is known about the illness and its symptoms are even more elusive. Onset is likely to take place in young adulthood or after a trauma. It is genetic and there is no cure. Many people who suffer from Schizophrenia take their own lives. This rate is higher in males than in females.

When asked what can be done? Carol hopes for more understanding. She wants people to know that Schizophrenia is not a crime. It is a disease. And that the job of a carer is like no other. It is hard. And it never ceases. Her tireless work has not gone unnoticed and Carol has been a special guest at the International Carers Conference. Here, she tells her story and advocates for more support. Carols knows that the greatest gift to any carer is actually caring for themselves. This is why she volunteers.

Along with her best friend Wendy, Carol heads up the Maple Circle Volunteers Group. Taking care of the local neighbourhood offers an outlet; a chance to enjoy dirty hands, fresh air and make a difference. The local neighbourhood is even better for it. Carol and Wendy are avid gardeners and have a knack for bringing people together. It all started with a graffiti-riddled fence that soon became too hard to ignore. For a proactive person like Carol, something had to be done so the residents of Maple Circle hosted their first Graffiti Removal Day.

Each year, Council partners with local volunteers to clean up graffiti all over the region. It’s very cathartic and brings people together. Maple Circle was no exception and scrubbed up very well. Everyone was proud of the job they’d done. Beautification was new concept for Carol and Wendy, but they found it suited them. Over the next few months, the neighbourhood was to experience a makeover. 

The next transformation came from the inside out. The Department of Housing pitched a pop-up maintenance tent in the heart of the cul-de-sac. Here, residents could find plumbers, carpenters, electricians and even structural engineers to fix what was broken. Together, they fulfilled 10 years’ worth of reports and improved quality of life in a day. The real success was relationships. People, who had not left their homes in years, came outside into the sunshine. They got to know each other as they waited for help. They also go to know the public servants. 

Thanks to Carol and Wendy, the future is bright for the neighbourhood. Soon they will welcome a Little Free Library to their reserve. It won’t be the familiar red wooden chest, but something that is more Maple Circle style. Something that will stand the test of time. An unclaimed fridge has been repurposed into a book case. It has been cleaned out and decorated with drawings by the local children. There will also be a bench overlooking the local playground, a citrus grove along the fence line and perhaps best of all, a Maple Tree will stand tall in the centre of the Circle. 

Living in Maple Circle has its challenges. Most of them are stereotypes. The people in this community are no different. They look after each other’s children, pets and gardens; they play, eat and laugh together. Carol has made it her mission to spread these words to everyone who will listen. She wants the Central Coast to know that she is grateful, happy and proud of where she lives. And this is because of the people she lives with. None so much as her best friend, Wendy. When asked to describe her best friend in three words, Carol speaks of a bubbly, outgoing and generous person. Carol on the other hand is known as: One. Beautiful. Lady.


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