Maggie Isom retired from serving her profession at 71, but five years further on just can’t retire from serving her community.
“They say what do you do in retirement, just sit down and read a book? I’m busier now than when I was working!” she laughs.
Aside from having reinvented herself as a civil celebrant, the career nurse and former Torquay Community Health Centre manager has maintained her passion for volunteering, and the altruistic ideals of Rotary.
As a 29-year member of the Rotary Club of Torquay she has helped energise countless community-focused projects.
“I just love the fact that it’s giving back,” she says.
“It’s about community service.”
Maggie’s devotion and contribution has amply qualified her as Surf Coast Shire’s latest Local Legend.
The award recognises her sustained positive impact and leadership in the community.
“Maggie is a kind, forthcoming and energetic member of the Torquay community,” nursing and Rotary International colleague Amanda Hough said in her nomination.
“She utilises and maximises her career years of leadership, management, negotiation and nursing skills in all aspects of her volunteering.
“Maggie is a giver.”
Maggie, mother of two adult children and four grandchildren, lives in Barwon Heads.
Her diverse career has included graduating in nursing from the Royal Melbourne Hospital and working in bush nursing hospitals, community health centres including Torquay and with Arthritis Victoria.
She managed and helped establish the Geelong BreastScreen service, managed Geelong Hospice Care and worked as a practice nurse in Ocean Grove until her retirement.
She was managing Torquay Community Health Centre when she was approached to join Rotary in 1992.
“I happened to mention that my Dad Lionel was in Rotary, and then I had a couple of Rotarians at my desk saying we would like to invite you to the Rotary Club of Torquay,” she says.
“I said yes and I’ve been with them all this time because it is kind of like a family, you meet every week and your social connections are really important.”
She is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, recognising outstanding contribution to the Rotary Foundation – with double sapphire recognition of service – was club Secretary last year and has among many roles been Director of Community Service, International Programs and Vocational Service.
She is also District 9780 Chair of the Donate Life organ donorship program and has spent decades passionately advocating Rotary’s Global End Polio Initiative, which took her to India in 2002 for a National Day which saw 30 million children immunised.
“And at the moment Rotary’s focus is the environment. We are collecting the lids from milk containers and my partner John McDonald, also a Torquay Rotary member, has his garage full with 10 kilograms of lids to sort,” Maggie says.
“We just happened to say that we would be the collection point and we’ve been inundated, you’ve no idea!
“They go to Lids for Kids. They used to make artificial limbs from them but now they make toys for kids, it is just phenomenal.”
The pandemic has inevitably impacted some of Torquay Rotary’s activities, including a shift to online meetings and adjustment of events like its annual motor show and Book Fair but the club is now looking forward to regaining full momentum and getting back into the community and more good work.
Her other passions include being Secretary of the Barwon Heads Fine Music Society, volunteering at Barwon Heads Uniting Church and formerly volunteering as a guide at Geelong Gallery.
The Local Legend describes herself as someone who co-operates with people, and as a communicator willing to listen and understand
“And I’m a bit crazy at times. I’m a fun person, I just like having fun and I’ve got a lot of energy,” she says.
“Probably the difficult thing for me is that I can’t say no. But I do love being involved in all of the community groups and especially Rotary.”