At Leisure Lea Gardens, residents often comment that the staff members and those providing services are “like family”. This feeling is often reciprocal, with long-time hairdresser, Lucy Abbattista-Minnicino, saying: “The residents are my family – I hear all their joys and woes and we face them together.”
Lucy has also faced many challenges over the years. Born in Bari, Italy, Lucy lived in an orphanage until she and her brother were adopted into the same family. The family moved to Australia when she was five years old and she learned to speak English at her school, Our Lady Queen of Peace in Gladesville. In Year 2, she was fortunate to have an Italian teacher who could teach both languages.
Lucy always knew she wanted to be a hairdresser. “As a child I would cut all my dolls’ hair and at age 15, I was working Thursday nights and Saturday mornings at Michael’s Harem Hair Salon in the old Top Ryde Centre. I went to Galston High School until Year 10, then my parents decided to return to Italy but only stayed for 12 months,” she said.
Lucy returned to the same hair salon where the manager took her under her wing and taught her hairdressing. “I stayed for five years, got married and moved to Baulkham Hills, working at Castle Hill Towers with MG Hair Salon. We then moved to Hinchinbrook where I had my first son at age 24 and a second son 12 months later.”
Lucy did home hairdressing while her sons were little, then moved to Glenore where the children went to school. She worked for a salon which offered hairdressing services at a local retirement village and a year later, became the manager of the salon, staying for six years.
Then disaster struck. “My father was diagnosed with cancer and I stopped working. My marriage was falling apart and trying to juggle children, my father and work was all too much. We sold the family home and I moved in with my mother. When Dad died, we moved to Ryde and a friend saw an advert in The Weekly Times for a hairdresser at Leisure Lea Gardens. I have been here ever since.”
Lucy believes the challenges she has faced have made her stronger. She is also grateful to be such an important part of the Leisure Lea Gardens’ family – and they are just as grateful to have Lucy in their lives.
To find out more about how new clients can claim their free hair voucher, click here.