Offering help after disaster Core four driven to help
Whitsunday volunteers tell their side
BEHIND Aidtaskers are a group of heroes who have been a god-send for the Whitsunday community.
While the recently formed Disaster Management organisation is based in Mackay, volunteers have been on the ground in the Whitsundays helping the hard hit communities affected by Cyclone Debbie.
Dave Ayles, Tyson Bennett and Lauren May are just a few of the selfless individuals who have given personalised help to those most in need in the Whitsundays and surrounding areas.
Aidtaskers have already helped up to 3500 people with trucks of hamper packs and water by working with organisations such as Red Cross, the SES, Community Recovery Centres, Centrelink, the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre, Rotary and the Give Centre.
Aidtaskers owner Dave Ayles said his remarkable team went out of their way to make a difference to people’s lives on the ground.
“Some of the characteristics of the volunteers are hilarious, they break the ice and have a good time and help others in a fun environment even though we are in a serious situation,” he said.
“One of our volunteers, Tyson, would go to remote communities off his own back and help elderly people with electrical items and even went to his laptop to help them get the government assistance they were entitled to.
“We also had Lauren who had a mind-frame of helping people in the way she would want help if she needed something.”
Mr Ayles said knowing they were making a real difference was the best form of satisfaction they could ask for. Call Aidtaskers on 0428 028 023. CHRIS Pannan didn’t have the money to help victims of Cyclone Debbie but he had the energy needed to effect positive change on the ground in the Whitsundays.
Mr Pannan was an integral member of the Volunteer Whitsundays group and said the organisation provided an opportunity for people to come together and thrive as a community.
And for Mr Pannan, Volunteer Whitsundays was also about breaking down barriers.
“We now share what we have and by giving we receive so much more in return,” he said.
For Tracey Lord, another core member of the Volunteer Whitsundays group, seeing the destruction and a need to get the Whitsundays restored to normal drove her to become involved.
In the wind and water-scarred aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, Tracey set up a Go Fund Me page, linked to the online Facebook group Volunteer Whitsundays, that has raised more than $14,000.
Ms Lord’s property didn’t escape the cyclone unscathed.
Her Bedford truck was flipped over by wind gusts that reached 280km/h. That truck has now been broken into but Ms Lords said many other people were in situations far worse than her own.
Making sure people had food in the direct aftermath of the cyclone was a priority so Ms Lord, who opearates a Cosmos street cafs selling burgers from a roadside van, teamed up with co-owners of Fish D’Vine, Kevin Collins and Rebecca Clark, to feed people.
A desire to help people is also what motivated another core member of Volunteer Whitsundays, Heather Batrick.
One of Ms Batrick’s roles was to connect people in need with people who had vehicles, chainsaws and the motivation to help.
“And to see their faces at the end of it, when people look at a job in which they think ‘where do I even start’ and you get in with eight or 10 people and get it done, they are so grateful,” she said.
The final core member of the group bought a military-like precision to the Volunteer Whitsundays operation.
Former paratrooper Andrew Sloane had cleared fallen trees between the Whitsunday Shopping Centre and Altmann Av even before the proper formation of the online group.
FOUR-SOME EFFORT: Volunteer Whitsunday members Tracey Lord, Heather Batrick, Chris Pannan and Andrew Sloane.