Mend-it Maestro carves long career

There’s not too much that Michael the Mend–It Maestro hasn’t mended over his 37 years working in maintenance at Uniting AgeWell.

And now Michael Jenkinson is hanging up his wrench and his saw, along with the multitude of other tools he uses, as he retires on July 15.

The 68-year-old started work at Uniting AgeWell at the age of 31, on a background of working in upholstery, running a kids’ campsite and extensive home-grown experience of being a handy man.

And this jack-of-all-trades approach has stood him in great stead over the years as he’s weaved his magic across a number of residential sites, fixing everything from broken appliances, to repairing broken furniture, sorting out minor plumbing issues and undertaking general maintenance. And if he doesn’t know how to fix something, he finds out how to do it.

And then of course there’s landscaping, driving buses, and over the last two years, delivering PPE around Victoria every week.

“It’s been busy,” says Michael, whose official title still reads as Maintenance Officer Box Hill. “There have been many odd things that have happened over the years.”

Michael remembers a gas leak in the road outside Box Hill Community, with fire engines, ambulances and police swarming all over the area. “It was a cast of hundreds, but it got fixed before nightfall,” he says.

And the most common thing that goes wrong? “Electric beds, and those nurse call buttons not working properly,” Michael says. “Both need to be fixed, urgently! Our residents’ safety is always our top priority.”

The most challenging thing over the years has been learning to fix high-tech machinery. “Technology has evolved so rapidly, and some of it is quite complicated. But of course even high-tech gadgets break, and I have to figure out how to fix them.”

Michael has travelled extensively – from seeing the snowy wonderland of Alaska to volcanoes in Hawaii – and plans on spending his retirement enjoying time with his four grandchildren.

And the million dollar question: does he fix up broken stuff at home?

“Yes, but if it is too complicated I call in my son or my son-in-law. Both are carpenters.”

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