When Wally Harrison arrived at the NationsHeart FoodHut in Belconnen, he was looking for help. Recently retired from truck driving, Wally was juggling the needs of his family on a limited income.
“I heard about a place you could go and get help with food, so I thought I’d go along and check it out,” he says.
It wasn’t long before Wally started helping by unpacking the pallet of deliveries on Wednesdays and volunteering to help shoppers on Fridays.
“It meant a lot to me to have a role to play,” he says. “It gave me a reason to get out of bed every day, and it was good to see things taking shape and be part of the team welcoming and caring for people who come.”
The FoodHut is a mini-market of food and other grocery items available to the wider community. The goods come through partnerships with FoodBank NSW, OzHarvest and Communities at Work. Fresh produce is passed on free of charge, with a small handling fee on goods transported from Sydney.
Now, Wally has stepped up to try his hand at overseeing the FoodHut alongside another volunteer, Angela Sutherland.
“I soon realised there was a fair bit to the job,” says Wally. “You can get a call at any time with goods coming from local suppliers, and we never know when our order from Sydney will arrive. You can get pretty tired at times when there’s lots of stock to sort out.”
Wally and Angela’s personal partnership also progressed; they are now married.
“I guess I got more than I bargained for in taking on this role,” Wally smiles.
Wally and Angela oversee a small team of dedicated volunteers, serving “all those who come”. Each shopper is assisted around the FoodHut, creating community connections.
The FoodHut opens twice a week with around 100 members signing on each year. Recently, there has been growth in people seeking crisis help through a voucher system overseen by Rotary.
“People can go to community agencies and receive $10 vouchers. In the FoodHut, $10 goes a long way – and people walk out with several bags full of things they need to see them through.”
The FoodHut has been housed in a small portable building for the past 12 years, but plans are in place for a new purpose-built facility, which will include more space for the FoodHut and for other community connections.
“This building has served its purpose, but we’ve had to shuffle things around and try to make do. The new building will be much more spacious, easier to receive goods to and have better access for older people and those with disabilities.”
A fundraising campaign is underway to raise the money needed for the new facility. A bottle and can collection is being taken up by the community, and others are signing on to make donations. For more information, visit nationsheart.com.au
St Clare’s receives STEM grant
St Clare’s College has received a grant from the Department of Industry to support students participating in international STEM events and competitions.
The $20,000 grant will allow students to travel to Louisville, Kentucky in April 2019 for the VEX Robotics World Championships.
The SWITCH (St Clare’s Women in Information and Communication Hub) team have worked throughout the year to build and program VEX IQ and EDR robots and have been competing locally throughout 2018.
They will travel to Melbourne in December to compete in the Australian National Competition and will now have the opportunity to visit the USA, where competitors from around the world will come together to solve this season’s challenge.