New home for four kids and carers
It’s hard to put into words the sense of community that was so palpable on Saturday night at the thankyou barbecue and celebration for the completion of the 4 Kids and Carers Future Foundation (4KCFF) home.
It marked a major milestone in an epic effort that began in May last year to support the four Wangaratta kids and their carers who were left devastated by the tragic events which claimed the lives of the children’s parents on Anzac Day 2017.
Jason Reid, chair of the 4KCFF, was understandably emotional as he welcomed the army of tradies, volunteers, sponsors and businesses from across the North East who rallied to support the foundation in its quest to provide a comfortable, new five bedroom home in Yarrawonga Road for the family.
He estimated more than 160 individuals had been involved in the build.
“As we know the incident on Anzac Day jolted family, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers to do some remarkable things, such things as this magnificent property we are standing on today,” Mr Reid said.
“After the incident many community members got together to organise a fundraiser which raised in excess of $80,000, along with funds raised on two separate GoFundMe pages which took the tally to in excess of $100,000.”
Local groups in Wangaratta, Bright and Moyhu were meeting to arrange support in many ways and organise fundraisers for the four children and their extended family.
Mr Reid told of his meeting with John and Brenton Dunne and several other Wangaratta people and, with support from many local businesses and major companies such as Price Waterhouse Coopers and Moore’s Solicitors, the 4KCFF was formed.
“What we found was that even these large firms were willing to assist the family for no fees, such was the gravity and affect their circumstances had on all who became aware of it,” Mr Reid said.
“Doreen Wessel from Edge FM/3NE mentioned that Cavalier Homes had raised the idea the foundation should build the family a house and a meeting was arranged between the foundation and Dale and Shane from Cavalier Homes.
“It wasn’t long before everyone realised what a massive commitment it was to build a house but there was never a hurdle too large to overcome.”
Alot of land in Yarrawonga Road was purchased and a plea made to tradies, subcontractors and suppliers to help out. “The Wangaratta Chronicle put out a call to arms and we had an overwhelming response,” Mr Reid said.
“That was when we finally thought this might wor,k although still with much trepidation.
“We had a site meeting once the block settled and I met a lot of the guys, and we sent out requests for assistance to major suppliers and trades and nearly all of them came back with an overwhelming positive response.
“It was about this time I was thinking ‘who will hold all of this together’ and then a bloke called ‘Stretch’ Everett rang me.
“Stretch got cracking and before long he had the under- slab organised, and heaps of blokes and machines to do the work.
“It then became evident to me that Stretch wasn’t stopping there.
“I soon learned Stretch knew every tradie in the region and just made it happen.
“He spent every day of every week with the exception of five days during the construction, organising every aspect of the house build.
“The really amazing aspect of what transpired here was the guys from Cavalier, Stretch, Ray Griffin, Clayton Hines, Mitch Hill and so many of their mates and other tradies did not know the family from a bar of soap, but because of their generosity, their empathy and their amazing skills, we are all standing here now less than five months after the soil was turned.
“As far as I know it’s nearly a record in Wangaratta on a house build this size.
“Stretch and the rest of you, you are all amazing and on behalf of the foundation, the grandparents, and the four kids, we cannot and will never be able to thank all of you enough.”
Mr Reid thanked the Rural City of Wangaratta and the councillors for their support, and Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Valley) and called on the community leaders present to acknowledge what had transpired over the months and to introduce themselves to the people who made it happen.
He also sought some assistance from rural city mayor Ken Clarke and the councillors present to provide some bureaucratic assistance to Stretch.
“Stretch was working at the site when he had a bad tooth ache and had to rush into town to see a dentist,” Mr Reid said.
“Unfortunately he got a parking ticket; Stretch said it was because the bloody machine wasn’t working.
“Come on Ken, I’m sure you can sort something out for our mate Stretch.”
Saturday night’s celebration was aslo tinged, however, by the memory of the tragedy that created the family’s need in the first place.
“We need to send the message out that we should never have had to do this in the first place,” Mr Reid said.
“This is an important message our community leaders can assist us in getting out to the broader community and in advance we thank them for that.
“I think it is very important that our leaders try not to forget the lessons learned and strive to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Mr Reid emphasised this great achievement was not the end of the foundation’s long term role to support the family.
“We will be here for the long haul, it’s not cheap to raise four kids,” he said.
“We will continue to raise money in a quiet way because we don’t want the kids to feel too different to their friends.
“We will also continue to advocate for them and their grandparents and spread the message that what happened on that day should never happen again.
“To all of you who have helped so much, we thank you.”
Rochelle Maher, a close friend of ther four children’s mother, Ora Holt, bravely put into words the expression of thanks to the 4KCFF and the hundreds of people who had realised the dream of a new home.
“Ora was a kind, loving, happy, selfless person who always thought of others first,” Rochelle told the gathered crowd.
“Ora always put her children first, right to the end. Ora is and always will be a hero; she’s my hero.
“You too are all heroes, you have put four children and Ora’s parents before yourselves. “I thank you for what you have done.” Mr Reid also acknowledged the sacrifice partners and families of volunteers had made while they worked on the site.
Life will return to relative normality for those who were involved in this remarkable achievement but the new five bedroom, two bathroom home for four kids and their carers will stand testament to a moment when an entire region rallied for one family.
A JOB WELL DONE: Just some of the more than 160 tradies, businesses, volunteers and sponsors who gathered on Saturday night to celebrate the completion of a new five bedroom, two bathroom home for four Wangaratta children - left orphaned in tragic circumstances last year - and their carers.