stories of hope
What a couple of years it's been: fires... COVID... floods... COVID again (still)...
Sometimes, though, we make progress. Sometimes, the news is good: whispering of possibility, renewal and hope.
We'd like to share some of those stories here.
Manning Valley Project on Hope 103.2
Radio Station Hope 103.2 FM has been interviewing people about 'Where we find hope'. They called in the days immediately after the March 2021 floods to find out how the community was doing – and what the Manning Valley Project was doing to help. You can listen to that short interview here.
'This IS church': stories from the flood zone
At the height of the March 2021 floods – with the Pacific Highway cut off right at their doorstep – Coopernook Uniting Church and Op Shop opened its doors to those left stranded. With the generous support of the surrounding community – donating matresses, bedding and food – the church members and volunteers housed, fed, clothed and gave sanctuary to a motley bunch of strangers who became family. From halal dinners to sheltering pets, from story sharing to phone re-charging, it was 'all in this together'. And when some temporary residents, surveying the matresses laid across the pews on the Sunday morning, asked with dismay: 'But what about church?', the answer, unhesitating, was: 'This IS church.'
Thanks to Elaine Windred, the Coopernook community, Action Group and RFS for being wonderful in a crisis. Thanks, too, to Charmaine at the Coopy Post Office, who worked with Rev Claire to deliver emergency assistance in outlyling areas in subsequent days. And to to all those who donated cleaning gear, food, time, mosquito coils, tarpaulin, Damp Rid and a thousand acts of kindess. This is church.
The Manning Valley Project, with funding from the Uniting Church's Disaster Fund and the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network, was able to deliver numerous hampers of food and essential supplies (including coffees for clearn-up crews); offer a friendly community to those displaced to Taree from other areas; offer transport to those otherwise unable to access Recovery Centres; offer advocacy and support through claims processes; purchase and deliver essential items (including one memorable lawn-mower); and 'buddy' affected households with charities and volunteer groups. In one joyous case, we were able to seize the opportunity to connect an elderly gentleman who urgently needed to downsize with a single mum who had been flooded out – and got a truck full of beautiful furniture delivered. Thanks to Manning Uniting, Laurieton Uniting, Forster-Tuncurry Uniting and many others for your help and generosity – and to Wingham Uniting for the morale-raising community cinema nights! (Sometimes, The World's Greatest Showman really helps...)
If you're looking for resources to support your family or community through fire, flood or even COVID trauma,
The Red Dove flies again
The Red Dove Coffee Shop is open again (from Wednesday 15 September) with a fresh look – and, of course, the same delicious fresh food and coffee. A big 'thank you' to Beata and the 'girls' for coming in on Friday mornings during the lockdown, to make coffee and hot drinks for people doing it tough and dropping in to the Manning UC welfare office, food bank and Orange Sky Laundry. Above and beyond...