‘What are you most looking forward to when the world gets back to closer to normal?’
This was a supplementary question in a recent Healthy North Coast online community consultation about attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines. One person’s answer has earned a local community organisation $2,000.
The judging panel felt the simplicity and yet depth of the response by Wollongbar’s Kim Green summed it up perfectly. Kim was looking forward to: ‘Hugs – just hugs. Mum’s in aged care, a son in Brisbane, a daughter in Melbourne, and a son in Germany. Just long to hug them.’
Kim’s response gives Five Loaves Ballina an opportunity to further give back to the community.
‘I nominated Five Loaves Ballina because in these times when COVID’s so hard for people who are housed and fed and well-clothed, it must be even harder for those people who rely on volunteer organisations for food, clothing and a sense of community,’ said Kim.
‘We all thought we had it bad, but gee, there are so many people who are worse off.’
Five Loaves Ballina spokesman David Keeler said he was both surprised and extremely grateful to learn of the donation.
‘All our staff are volunteers; after start-up funding from Adventist Community Services we rely on donations from the community and businesses to fund our program,’ David said.
‘We provide free meals two nights a week outside the ADRA Op Shop on the corner of Kerr and Tamar Streets in Ballina. Ever since COVID started we have had to stop serving meals at tables and have had the extra expense of providing packaged meals. This money will go a long way towards helping others.’
Healthy North Coast’s community consultation responses showed the impact of lockdowns, isolation and social distancing on families, communities, friends and workplaces were a clear source of sadness and loss for many.
Familiar threads were woven through many responses. People had a desire to travel and attend live music events. They missed the liberties and freedoms once taken for granted and looked forward to having them restored. They hoped for economic and social recovery. Typical comments were:
‘I look forward to all of us feeling free to gather and travel safely, and to “real” not “virtual” hugs with distant family members.’
‘Freedom. To make personal choices and not have to check a government website to find out what is ok.’
‘Freedom to travel, attend concerts, hug my friends, see ageing parents.’
‘Seeing the hospitality, tourism and entertainment sectors recover as they have been a vital source of employment, especially for young people.’
The small daily annoyances grated on many, like one person who wrote: ‘I can’t wait to walk into work and not need my temperature checked.’
And a final sentiment echoed by many: ‘Looking forward to improved health outcomes for all peoples of the world and those who have experienced COVID-19.’
Pictured: Kim Green, centre, with Five Loaves Ballina representatives Gary Webb and Anne Warne.