Rich in com­mu­nity

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - By KYLIE WIL­SON

SEE­ING a loved one suf­fer­ing, es­pe­cially for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time, is a dif­fi­cult ex­pe­ri­ence most peo­ple hope they don’t have to go through.

For mu­si­cian and new Wan­garatta res­i­dent Mandy Con­nell, see­ing her fa­ther spend sev­eral weeks at North­east Health Wan­garatta (NHW)

due to ill­ness made her re­solve to help raise funds for the fa­cil­ity in re­turn.

For­merly from Brunswick, a solo mu­si­cian and a part of in­de­pen­dent band Stray Hens, Mandy was de­ter­mined to help the hospi­tal the best way she knew how – through mu­sic, to show how grate­ful her fam­ily was for the as­sis­tance they pro­vided.

She and a num­ber of fel­low mu­si­cians from Aus­tralia and around the world con­trib­uted

al­bums or tracks as re­wards for peo­ple do­nat­ing to her Poz­i­ble cam­paign, rais­ing more than $1200 to­wards the hospi­tal’s Com­mu­nity Care Cen­tre Ap­peal.

Mandy said she was very touched by the re­sponse by all in­volved. “It was just an amaz­ing thing,” she said.

Fin­ish­ing the cam­paign was the cul­mi­na­tion of a dif­fi­cult few months, with her fa­ther Peter Fin­ger be­ing hos­pi­talised for a num­ber of ill­nesses, in­clud­ing hepati­tis C (now a cur­able ail­ment), pre­vi­ous re­cov­ery from a triple heart by­pass, and a her­nia which led to in­fec­tion.

“He went down to 42kg and when I checked him in to emer­gency we found out that the re­cur­rent pain he had in the base of his spine was from os­teo-myeli­tis, and a big ab­scess had bro­ken off his tail­bone,” Mandy said.

“We were in­cred­i­bly lucky to have the fine staff at the hospi­tal to help us.”

Mandy said her fa­ther had lived in Wan­garatta for the past few years due to his need to be close to a hospi­tal which per­forms as­cites taps for fluid build-up.

She said her fa­ther’s low in­come meant he was for­merly liv­ing in car­a­van park ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Mandy said that a lack of af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion in ar­eas like Wan­garatta of­ten led to des­per­ate and dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple be­com­ing dis­en­fran­chised in the com­mu­nity, with neg­a­tiv­ity from the public of­ten be­com­ing a self ful­fill­ing prophecy.

“The poor are part of the com­mu­nity too,” she said, ex­plain­ing that the tri­als of the past year had helped her learn to reach out to oth­ers and ask for help.

“I have a re­ally strong com­mu­nity, be­cause I reach out,” she said.

“Dad now has a safe, warm and clean place to live with sup­port from me, and also con­tin­ued sup­port from Dis­trict Nurs­ing.”

Mandy said her fa­ther’s health had much im­proved and the pair spend as much time to­gether, talk­ing or play­ing sim­ple games like Scrab­ble.

She said both ben­e­fited from NHW’s af­ter­care pro­gram and other so­cial pro­grams.

And be­ing wel­comed by the lo­cal com­mu­nity did not hurt ei­ther.

“For me, it’s been a big tran­si­tion and a bit scary, but Wang’s small, pas­sion­ate com­mu­nity of mu­si­cians has made me wel­come, from open mic at The Rail­way to Luke Davies and his fab­u­lous con­certs,” Mandy said.

“I’m mak­ing a life and build­ing com­mu­nity ties here.

“If you keep a strong com­mu­nity around you, you’re so much richer.”

Stray Hens are cur­rently hold­ing a Poz­i­ble cam­paign of their own to help re­lease their new al­bum, and more in­for­ma­tion is avail­able on poz­i­ble.com/project/test-22.

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

SHAR­ING HER MU­SIC: Mandy Con­nell, a pas­sion­ate mu­si­cian, is also ded­i­cated to help­ing peo­ple who find

them­selves in dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions.

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

FAM­ILY: Mandy Con­nell with her fa­ther Peter Fin­ger, who in­spired her to raise money for North­east Health Wan­garatta af­ter he had an ex­tended stay there ear­lier this year. FUNDRAISER: (In­set) Mandy Con­nell pre­sent­ing the pro­ceeds from her re­cent Poz­i­ble fundrais­ing cam­paign to North­east Health Wan­garatta com­mu­nity en­gage­ment co­or­di­na­tor Na­dia Til­son.

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