Prior to Christmas, Kerry Howie (Ward Clerk) and Rob Godfrey (Supply Officer) from Brisbane Waters Private began collecting goods for hampers to be distributed to families in areas affected by severe droughts in rural New South Wales.
"We wanted to give back in such away as it was personal. On Facebook we saw a group called 'Coasties Drought Aid'. Their aim was to help tiny little towns that are drought affected and had been doing it tough,and likely to not get a Christmas," said Kerry.
"What these people have gone through is just devastating. Helping people in dire straits means a lot to me, because we've lost a house in a fire previously and had to start from scratch, so I have a lot of empathy for these people," said Rob.
As a hospital, Brisbane Waters Private joined the cause and were allocated the small community of Leadville, a town located near Dunedoo and Dubbo with a population of just 186. Each ward was then allocated a family to collect for, including elderly couples and a family of fifth generation sheep farmers. Together, the staff and patients collected goods, money for debit cards so purchases could be made from local shops, and items to help bring a little extra cheer at Christmas.
"It was one of the nicest things I've ever been involved in. It was really personal - our family could help another family. We realised there is just so much that we take for granted. A lot of the families in Leadville weren't expecting anything, they are proud families, and had been nominated by others," said Kerry.
After the collection, Rob and his wife Pam packed up what had become a trailer load of hampers and drove them to Leadville for delivery.
The land is just barren. There's nothing out there, there's dead cattle, there's no water in the dams or anything like that. Going out there was just an experience that I'll never forget - it's changed my perspective on my whole life."
When Rob and Pam arrived in Leadville, the families in the local community were only expecting to receive one hamper, but instead were overwhelmed to receive 6,7 or 8 hampers per family.
"To see their faces light up was just amazing. It makes you feel good - we all did so well. The hospital staff and even patients in our Clinic chipped in and built their own hampers which we took out. For the families out there though, the struggle and the mental health struggle in particular, is just huge."
As the bushfires spread, those families then had to contend with a new challenge. Due to the generosity of the staff and patients of Brisbane Waters Private, the extra donations and hampers have now been delivered to those affected by the bushfires too.
Love Your Work Kerry and Rob, thank you for your service to our community!