Faith, family, food and fun are the driving factors behind Tanunda couple, Des and Lorna Schiller’s mission to serve.
“Volunteering is just something we’ve always done. It’s always been our way of life, it started in our teens at church in youth,” said Lorna.
“It was always ‘Schiller’ will bring the barbecue and Lorna will organise the meat… we were always working together organising things. People just put us together as a couple long before we were!”
Lorna said Des is a “social butterfly” so volunteering suited him to a tee.
“I’m a people person I suppose,” said Des.
Both born and raised in Eudunda, Lorna “blames” her father for her passion to serve others.
“He’d ask, after church, what are you doing for lunch today? Then he’d say why don’t you come around? On the way home he’d say to mum, oh, we’ve got the Tscharkes, or whoever, coming around.
“That’s really where it started. Soup always stretched further!”
Running a mixed farming property at Eudunda, Des would go out shearing during the week and be working with Lorna on weekends.
Yet the duo always found time to volunteer at church and in their local community with fundraising and the like.
Then when children, Vanessa and Christopher arrived, they discovered a love for working with young people.
There were numerous school committees, youth counselling opportunities and plenty of events to cater for.
“I probably cooked at over 40 school camps – Des came on some too,” said Lorna.
Des played in the Light United Band, then Nuriootpa Town Band for more than three decades whilst Lorna always helped out behind the scenes, feeding the crowds.
But when Des injured his back from shearing, life needed to change.
The couple’s reputation for volunteer caterers led them to gaining employment as managers at the Eudunda Club where they worked for 8 years.
“It was an absolute pleasure to be of service to the community,” said Des.
“We grew by that and that’s where Faith Lutheran College came into play because of our experience. Our children went to Faith and Lorna was volunteering there anyway.”
In 2001 they sold the farm and moved to Tanunda to be closer to the college campus where Lorna continued working for 15½ years and Des, 13½.
“I think the kids liked having a male around the canteen too,” said Des.
“I would listen to them…I found out where they came from and then I could talk about shared interests, farming or music, all that sort of thing and suddenly you are having a conversation.
“Some of them were very quiet but after a few years, they’d say Mr Schiller, how you going?
Lorna added, “We were working with children – what a delight!”
Supporting the well-being of children was the reason the duo joined Kiwanis in 2002.
“We were serving the children of the world – fundraising became “fun” raising and not a chore,” Des said.
“Each December we treat 20 HeartKids families to a party in the park, with a meal plus gifts all round from Father Christmas.”
The Club donate a number of awards to many local schools and is closely involved with the Raw Impact office and a range of other programmes for children in
Fundraising activities include volunteering at the footy gates, running clearing sales and, of course, plenty of catering gigs.
“It’s been 10 years since we started this Gomersal Rest Area,” said Des, describing yet another Kiwanis Club project.
“It’s great to get out planting, weeding and watering.”
“And don’t forget, Des plays bowls 10 days a week!” laughed Lorna.
“So there’s endless opportunities for catering, bar work, cleaning, organising something – in other words doing anything so I don’t have to play!”
Thirty eight years on, and Des is still loving his bowls whilst Lorna is in the Club kitchen cooking up a storm.
After all, you can’t have one without the other when it comes to this Schiller duo.
“We are always together, always have been,” said Lorna.
“We farmed together…we worked at the Eudunda Club together and at Faith College we worked side by side.
“I thought Kiwanis would be great for Des, I had enough to do with work, but then they wanted me too!
“When it comes to catering, I’m probably the one to say ‘of course we can do that’ and Des is always beside me. We don’t go our separate ways.”
However, COVID-19 social distancing has wreaked havoc on the activities the Schillers enjoy most, especially Des.
“The first fortnight I really felt it,” he said.
“Being bar manager at the bowling club I got nearly 60 emails within a week from Bowls SA, government, council… about what we could and couldn’t do.
“I got run down a bit that first fortnight… but then we got painting!”
Des and Lorna can’t wait to be out and about once more after the pandemic is over, volunteering and helping wherever they can.
“We both benefit immensely from volunteering and being socially, mentally and physically active,” said Lorna.
“We do it because we love it…to see a smile on the faces of those you help that’s enough,” added Des.
“Basically, we class ourselves as ‘home bodies’, but why be there when you can be out helping