On Thursday 24 March 2022, Harry Harris, a support worker at IMAGE House (which is part Community Services at St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle) reached out to the Parish’s Communications team asking for help to promote a drive to collect shoes and take them to people who needed them in the flood-affected areas of the Northern Rivers.
In a couple of short weeks, thanks to the generosity and kindness of the Parish and wider community, Harry was overwhelmed by the donations he received. After having to put off the delivery road trip due to more wet weather, Harry was finally able to take our shoes (and our love) north on Thursday 7 April.
Read, below, Harry’s personal journal entry about the trip.
Harry’s Road Trip Journal
On Thursday (7 April) myself and my oldest daughter Elly travelled north to Woodburn, Casino and Lismore to deliver a Parish van full of shoes, clothes, cleaning products, toiletries, nappies and hand sanitiser. Our first stop was Woodburn, where we met up with daughter number 2, and chief photographer, Lily.
Woodburn- here we met the owner of The Riverview Cafe, an incredible man, Rob Duncan. Rob employs 70 staff and 17 of these have lost their homes completely. Out the back of his Cafe Rob has set up a small supply centre of foods, toiletries etc, for his staff. Rob got quite emotional when we told him we could help out. We dropped off some cleaning products, clothes, toiletries and nappies. We met one of Rob’s friends who lives on top of the hill, who has 38 locals camping on his property. Sadly, on the night The Cafe was flooded, a group of looters drove up on their boat and smashed a shop window and stole a small amount of cash from inside. On a brighter note if you are travelling north, please stop into The Riverview Cafe (Rosie’s), grab a feed and a coffee. We did and it was absolutely delicious!
Casino- it was complete devastation driving into Casino. Every home in every street with damaged belongings piled up on their front lawns. Most of the homes were vacant. The banks of the river have completely eroded, picnic areas and walkways washed away. We drove out to the showground pavilion and were blown away by the size of the operation. A kitchen full of volunteers preparing meals and a large basketball stadium full and every type of essential. We dropped off some shoes, toiletries and cleaning products.
Lismore- a friend (Talah Laurie), of a friend (Harry Bell) referred me to Koori Mail. Koori Mail is a fortnightly national newspaper reporting on the issues that matter to Aboriginal and Torres Strait people. Head office is in Lismore. When we pulled up in the van we were greeted with hugs and handshakes from the beautiful Bundjalung People. They were so grateful for the donations – the three of us felt their warmth and gratitude. It was a proud and rewarding moment.
The day was full of mixed emotions. We brought smiles to some faces, but you can still feel and see the sadness around The Northern Rivers.
Also, it took a great team to organise the drive. I was only The Messenger. When it comes to teamwork, everyone within The Parish was fantastic. What we organised in a week was amazing!
Thank you to the wonderful Port Macquarie, Kempsey, Wauchope and Camden Haven communities for their generosity. A special mention to Kathy from Three Little Birds in Wauchope. Kathy dropped in cleaning products, nappies, toiletries and hand sanitiser. These were essential.
To all the Parish staff, particularly the smiling staff at Admin who made my job easier. To staff at IMAGE house for their patience collecting and storing the shoes. In particular, my boss Sandy Menzies, Enrick Acuna, Kira Kelly, Pam Peters and clients Rob Franks and Lyal Morris. Thank you to Bronwyn Chalker, Megan Barber and to my good mate Alan Pretty for organising the bus.
Also thank you to my best mate Harry Bell and Talah Laurie for providing the contacts.
A big thank you to my two oldest daughters Elly and Lily. Like every midwife in Australia Elly has been busting her gut, doing double shifts with no staff. Lily travelled down from The Sunshine Coast just to lend a hand. Thank you, girls. Elly your playlist was fantastic.
Support Worker, IMAGE House
St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle