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meet our local volunteers

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Jenny's story 

Mucking in to make a difference....


Habitat for Humanity South Australia volunteer, Jenny, is one of those people who, in her own words, likes to ‘muck in’. She gets her hands dirty and gets the job done.

In volunteering for Habitat on-and-off over a period of 15 years – outside a stint where she took her teaching career to the United Kingdom for 12 months – Jenny has worked in three of the key elements of Habitat’s work: Bushfire Recovery, Brush with Kindness, and now in Habitat’s social enterprise, ReStore.

Jenny’s motivation is uncomplicated – she likes to help others but also finds reward in engaging with other volunteers. “The idea that we were assisting people to be in safe shelter, and helping people to have a more pleasant place to come home to, appeals to me,” Jenny says.

​“It’s also about the friendship that you get with other people and the enjoyment that you get from being in their company – watching how people work, and watching how they interact with each other, has always been a joy for me,” she adds.

Jenny now spends an average of two days a week volunteering, splitting her time between the Brush with Kindness program and ReStore. Jenny helps supervise the Brush with Kindness program: allocating tasks to teams of corporate volunteers; ensuring the teams have the equipment required for the job; and delivering essential safety briefings onsite. She then ‘mucks in’ with the team, completing jobs like cleaning, planting, and painting.

Jenny cites the recent experience of working with an 80-year-old homeowner to regain the former glory, and safe use, of her back garden, as one of the highlights of her volunteering. Other highlights have included Habitat’s bushfire recovery work in 2020.  “Every job we do makes such a fantastic difference for people,” she says.

In earlier days with the bushfire recovery program, Jenny could be found stationed in the Lobethal Recovery Centre offering advice on the assistance that Habitat could provide to the landowners affected by the Cudlee Creek fire in the Adelaide Hills. The landowners, many of whom were overwhelmed by the enormity of the clean-up task confronting them, were deeply appreciative of the support. “When I went into the Bushfire Recovery Centre in Lobethal for Habitat, it was the first thing that struck me. People said they didn’t know how to start (cleaning up) and they couldn’t even make a start on thinking about it, they weren’t ready. I realised then it was pointless saying: ‘Right let’s get busy for you’ because it’s not about that, people have got to be ready to take the job on. So, it really struck me that its never as simple as pulling your sleeves up and getting on with it when people can’t even cope with that notion.”

Jenny then joined Habitat’s other volunteers out in the blackened paddocks: removing the remains of fencing destroyed by the blaze, dragging fallen vegetation into ‘burn piles’, and replanting trees and shrubs, often in steep and challenging terrain. While the bushfires have gone out other natural disasters remain, and the daily challenge for so many people posed by higher interest rates and cost of living increases will ensure that Habitat’s hard-working band of volunteers will remain busy well into the future.

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