Of­fer­ing help af­ter dis­as­ter Core four driven to help

Whit­sun­day vol­un­teers tell their side

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Peter Carruthers

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.