“You don’t realise until there’s a disaster how many people are out there doing amazing things and they pitch in,” says Sally, who has volunteered with us for more than 20 years. The Canberra local herself did not think twice when the call came to help at the Batemans Bay evacuation centre during the bushfire crisis.
Sally, who was holidaying nearby with her family, says lots of people helped out. “We’re doing the same as everybody else is doing, we’re all helping out here.”
Like the Batemans Bay Greek community who helped feed the hundreds of people who took shelter at the evacuation centre on New Year’s Eve as fires threatened the town.
The Greek community had been planning a big New Year’s Eve celebration, she says. “Because it didn’t happen, they bought all their food here. They made kebabs and they brought barbeques in. They catered for everybody.”
Or like two brothers who volunteered in the evacuation centre’s kitchen day after day, says Sally. “They’ve been in their swags sleeping out [and] they’ve been helping in the kitchen. They’re probably 18, 19, and they haven’t left; they’re working from eight (in the morning) till eight at night.
“You get a lot of people come in – even though they’re not wearing a uniform and not volunteering for an agency – there’s some amazing people round.”
As a Red Cross volunteer, Sally helped to register people as they arrived at the centre. Trained in psychosocial first aid, she also provided emotional support and comfort.