Vol­un­teers gather clean-up mo­men­tum

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

VOL­UN­TEER Whit­sun­days group founder Jo Sweeney has de­scribed the on­line group’s ef­forts to clean up the re­gion in the wake of Cy­clone Deb­bie as “con­ta­gious giv­ing”.

Daily work­ing bees will be scaled back to one a week from Sun­day.

“Be­yond the struc­tured work­ing bees, re­cov­ery has moved to re­lief and in the fu­ture we are fo­cus­ing mak­ing as much of a foot­print but in a dif­fer­ent way,” Ms Sweeney said.

“Our mo­men­tum won’t stop, it will just change.”

Vol­un­teer Whit­sun­days has now part­nered with the En­deav­our Foun­da­tion and will fo­cus ef­forts on the el­derly in the com­mu­nity.

Through the GoFundMe page set up by Vol­un­teer Whit­sun­days, more than $5600 has now been raised.

The group is ask­ing the Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity for ideas on how the money should be spent.

Ms Sweeney said she had been in­spired by what the group had achieved and the by big-hearted Whit­sun­day com­mu­nity which had de­liv­ered help to so many in need.

“Peo­ple are post­ing to our page and peo­ple are con­nect­ing with each other and are help­ing each other out,” she said.

“That is the real com­mu­nity spirit of hav­ing a com­mu­nity-run Face­book page.”

Ms Sweeney said more than 200 vol­un­teers had of­fered to help move fallen trees and clean up the re­gion and many more had do­nated house­hold items.

Vol­un­teer Whit­sun­days would now of­fer mo­ti­va­tional speak­ers, coun­sel­lors and live mu­sic to pro­vide ex­tra sup­port, she said.

Ms Sweeney praised Tracey Lord who she de­scribed as a “com­mu­nity cham­pion” for driv­ing the GoFundMe page and help­ing peo­ple di­rectly.

She also praised Heather Ba­trick, who has been in charge of or­gan­is­ing clean-up op­er­a­tions, job sched­ul­ing and vol­un­teer sign-ups, and Chris Panan who as well as be­ing the me­dia li­ai­son has been ac­tive on a chain­saw.

She said Vol­un­teer Whit­sun­days looked for­ward to work­ing with groups such as Ro­tary and Can­non­vale Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre in the on­go­ing re­cov­ery ef­fort.

PHOTO: CHRIS PANNAN

KEEN TO HELP: Chris Pannan snaps a selfie with some of the Vol­un­teer Whit­sun­days clean-up crew.

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