Great work has been happening on the South Coast of NSW, benefitting both businesses and bushfire affected residents from Milton-Ulladulla down to Pambula. Upon starting work in April 2020, the Baptist Association’s South Coast Emergency Relief Coordinator quickly began building relationships with South Coast churches and local businesses. He realized the double benefit of purchasing gift vouchers from local businesses and creating voucher care packs for bushfire affected residents.
The churches quickly got on board with this idea and worked with local recovery specialists and a local school to identify individuals and families in need who may not have come forward in other circumstances. Everything was purchased locally, even the printing for stickers and care packs! The first round of packs was delivered in Winter 2020 with another round being delivered November through Christmas.
In total, over 30 businesses have been supported through this program and around 220 individuals or families have received care packs on the South Coast. The vouchers are for things like the local butchers, fruit and veg, farm supplies and tools, and even to get a hair cut. Church members have been delivering the packs, facilitating relationship connection. Each pack includes information on the church and also contact details for the counselling services available through the Baptist Bushfire Relief Funds.
One café owner who included vouchers in the pack made comment about how the support was making a difference to her business. A recipient, upon being delivered a care pack, commented on the impact that the counselling services was having on the community, “So many people were on the brink of death and through [the] counselling they have been given hope.”
It has been an absolute blessing to be able to work in the local communities this way and we are grateful for the work of our churches and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
Written by Kelly Crawford (Bushfire Relief Coordinator)