Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Leaving before her work really started

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When Salvation Army Lieutenant Tarsha Laundon (pictured) came to Deniliquin in January 2020, she was excited for a new country posting.

She had some great ideas she wanted to introduce once she settled in to her new home and community.

Two months later, the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Instead of implementi­ng her ideas, Lt Laundon was instead facing a situation where church and even the Salvation Army’s charity store were forced to close.

And now, Lt Laundon has been given a new assignment in Sydney, which will see her leave Deniliquin at the end of this month.

‘‘I feel like I haven’t really started because of COVID,’’ Lt Laundon said.

‘‘One of the good things we were able to do during COVID though was to forger better partnershi­ps with other local organisati­ons.

‘‘We had made up several COVID hampers, but because people were not allowed to come and see us we had no idea where to send them.

‘‘Those other agencies helped us get the hampers to the people that needed them most.’’

It’s just one example of the community spirit Lt Laundon said she will miss about Deniliquin.

‘‘I love Deni, and I am very sad to leave,’’ she said.

‘‘I was expecting I would be here for about five years, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.’’

Lt Laundon has been asked by the Salvation Army to move into a pastoral care role at an aged care facility in Collaroy, on Sydney’s northern beaches.

And while she’s a little nervous about leaving a COVID-free area to go to a hot spot — and a city posting because she is a ‘‘country girl at heart’’ — Lt Laundon said she is excited for the opportunit­y.

‘‘My new job role is as Chaplin to an aged care centre. They have not had a Chaplin for most of the year and need to have one employed for accreditat­ion, and my name came up.

‘‘It is something completely different for me. It is more of a social appointmen­t, providing pastoral care for staff and residents.

‘‘I will lead chapel on Thursdays, and there will be a rotating roster for Sunday services.’’

Lt Laundon’s departure will allow the Salvation Army to try a new approach at Deniliquin, with a community engagement worker pilot program to be trialled at the local church.

‘‘We are looking to employ a community engagement worker as my replacemen­t, who will assess the needs of the community.

‘‘At this stage we (the Salvation Army) have so many corps and not enough officers, and we hope we can find someone to fill that role from the local community.

‘‘We are all mission minded people and want to be out in the community, but unfortunat­ely my role does see me doing more paperwork that community outreach sometimes.

‘‘This worker will interact more with the community.

‘‘It is a pioneering project — a pilot that could spread to other areas if successful.’’

Lt Laundon said the plan was to have the community engagement worker employed before her departure, so that she could provide some guidance to the person coming into the role.

She said recruitmen­t was delayed because of the recently lifted lockdown rules in NSW, and cannot confirm when her replacemen­t will be appointed.

The Deniliquin Salvation Army Community Store will remain open in the interim.

Normal church services have not been possible lately because of the COVID-19 restrictio­ns, and it is expected members of the church will continue to come together in small groups and watch other services via Zoom until a full return to local services is possible.

Lt Laundon’s last day with the Deniliquin Salvation Army is this Friday, and she will leave Deniliquin the following week. Her new role in Sydney starts on October 5.

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