Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Gilmore Electorate: St Vincent de Paul
The generosity of local residents is combining with the federal government's Work for the Dole program and helping Vinnies go global. Who would have thought that such humble beginnings can make a real difference to so many, not just local residents but also people in other countries. On Thursday I visited our local St Vincent de Paul warehouse, which was opened earlier this year. They had outgrown their existing premises and, judging by this new one, they may need to expand again. I am regularly told by people, including Red Cross collection coordinators and the Salvation Army Red Shield team, how the Shoalhaven gives more per capita than any other area. As a consequence, I have always been exceptionally proud of the amazing generosity of our Gilmore residents.
On this visit I had that pride further justified. Our local generosity is helping many families in and around Gilmore, as Vinnies have a number of retail stores. Not only do they sell clothing and all sorts of bric-a-brac but the incredible level of giving is benefiting people in impoverished international communities. The South Nowra collection centre, which is sorting, all the goods is full to the brim. St Vincent de Paul regional centre manager, Rod Douglas, said people in the Shoalhaven donated much more than the people in neighbouring areas. Seriously, I am not surprised by that information, but as we toured the warehouse I was very surprised at the extent of the destinations for the donated goods. Not only that, but the 360 volunteers, many of whom are Work for the Dole participants, have a life changing experience as they are putting in their time at Vinnies. Rod Douglas does not discriminate as to the different motives for the volunteers. They are all part of the Vinnies. Collectively, these volunteers are contributing more than 3,500 volunteer hours each week. Rod also told me how much he appreciates the Work for the Dole scheme, as the work would be impossible without it. He added that many people who started working with Vinnies under Work for the Dole continued volunteering after their placements ended, because they felt like they belonged. That was certainly evident on the day.
The huge volume of clothing and other donated items are sorted in the warehouse, but this is where the surprise really begins. The best quality items are kept for the local stores and yet 16 to 18 tonnes of clothing is sent overseas in a 40-foot container every week during the warm months and fortnightly during winter. That clothing is sent to a range of organisations, including World Vision and Oxfam, to help people in need all over the world in refugee areas and disaster areas, they being the priority. Cutlery, crockery, cookware and other assorted bric-a-brac that is excess to needs is also sent overseas. The prepared pallet I saw that day was ready to go to Africa. One hundred and eighty brand-new computer desks were being sent to schools in Fiji to replace those lost to cyclone damage. The beauty of what is occurring at Vinnies is that those extra donations are changing lives all over the world. (Time expired)