Our man Isaac working magic
On weekdays you can see Isaac Kuruvilla in smart business suit performing his duty as head of investments at the Sydney Diocesan Secretariat. On weekends, he is a different kind of performer – working magic, literally, for sick kids at Westmead Hospital.
“I am the perpetual one-month volunteer,” Kuruvilla says. Now, he has been named NSW’s Volunteer of the Year for Sydney mid-west for his work.
Staff in the diocesan offices at St Andrew’s House in the Sydney CBD know Kuruvilla for his cheery disposition – and for the annual Christmas party where he takes centre stage and shows his repertoire of magic tricks. Last year, even the Archbishop was asked to join Kuruvilla on stage as he performed new rope tricks around him.
It’s even more impressive when he does his shows at Westmead.
“Isaac describes himself as the volunteer who came for a month but never left – and 20 years later he is still delighting the young patients in Sydney Children’s Hospital, Westmead with his magic tricks,” says Gemma Rygate, the CEO of The Centre for Volunteering.
“Children queue up outside the Starlight Express Room when Isaac is in session, waiting for him to ‘magic’ them to a medical-free haven as he delights and distracts them from their pain.”
Kuruvilla was given both the overall 2017 Adult Volunteer of the Year Award for the Sydney mid-west region and another award for his work with the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
“The Volunteer of the Year Awards recognise the nation working hard at a grassroots level to deliver resilient and compassionate communities,” Ms Rygate says.
Adds Kuruvilla: “I am very passionate about volunteer work. It is a way you can show God’s love to others in a practical way – and you get back a lot more than you give.”
He also visits kids on the wards who are too ill to move, making it his mission to transform their day into a positive experience.
“I typically do some ward rounds in the morning, visiting kids who cannot get out of their beds or are confined to a ward for some reason,” he says. “I am just a big kid with them, sometimes this involves reading, joke telling, balloon animals or magic tricks. At around lunchtime I head off to the Starlight Room, which is a ‘fun room’ at the hospital where kids can just be kids and forget about their current troubles.
“I love the look of awe on a kids face – or an adult’s – when I perform a magic trick that really astounds them. That look is priceless.”
Kuruvilla is a member of Enfield and Strathfield Parish where his wife Chrissy is the children's ministry co-ordinator. He says he finds the award very humbling.
“I am thankful to my parents for always teaching me and my siblings to help others, especially those who are going through some type of turmoil,” he says. “I am very thankful to my wife Chrissy for letting me go off on Saturdays to do the volunteer work – with 3 kids at home, without her I could not do what I do.
“I have a desk job Monday to Friday which can be demanding at times – by the way, I love my job! But my work at the hospital is special because I can just concentrate on making the time at hospital for these beautiful kids and their families as fun as possible.”