Rich in community
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.
SHARING HER MUSIC: Mandy Connell, a passionate musician, is also dedicated to helping people who find
themselves in difficult situations.
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.