Across 14 Greenacres centres this week there will be dancing, cake and plenty of reminiscing as over 600 participants, staff and friends of Greenacres celebrate 65 years of supporting people with disability in our region.

Kicking off the celebrations on Thursday, November 29 was Greenacres Enterprises. Special guests, staff and supported employees listened to speeches, enjoyed two big birthday cakes, watched a video and had time for a quick dance before heading back to work.

The honour of cutting the cake went to 66-year-old Peter Mannix, who has been working at Greenacres for the last 50 years.

In 1968 you could buy a house for $14,000, The Monkees were flooding the airwaves, the population hadn’t reached 12 million and a young Peter started his first job at Greenacres.

Times have definitely changed and so has Greenacres but the one thing that has remained constant for 50 years is the dedication Peter has for his work.

Whether it was making leather goods in the 1970s, Mercury footwear in the 1980s or assembling fishing rods today, Peter has always put his heart and soul into whatever task he is given.

Like most people in their late 60s, Peter is starting to slow down and is beginning to prepare for his future retirement.

He now only works three days a week at Greenacres and spends the other two days at Greenacres Retirement Options (GRO) enjoying activities out in the community or time relaxing with his friends in the centre.

It has been our ability to respond and adapt to the changing needs of people like Peter where we have been able to provide support from his first of work right through to retirement that, according to Greenacres General Manager, John Harvey, is the organisations greatest achievement.

Nothing makes us prouder than the knowledge that we have been able to meet individual needs and goals through every stage of their lives, John said.

When Greenacres began 65 years ago, the idea that children with an intellectual disability should have the right to an education and the opportunity for employment was a radical concept.

It was the families and the community that challenged that thinking in response to a real need, and that is what has kept us thriving through so much social and economic change “ we have evolved by maintaining our values while being responsive to the needs and goals of our participants.

It has been quite a journey this year, adapting to the new way of operating under the NDIS, developing new and innovative supports, and highlighting to the community the importance of supported employment through the My Job Counts campaign.

As the year draws to an end, the whole Greenacres family is really looking forward to coming together and celebrating everything we have achieved over the last 65 years, John said.