By Kirra Grimes
THE Salvation Army’s Wonthaggi corps has welcomed a new captain who brings fresh ideas and a passion for helping country communities thrive.
Amy Jones has spent the past few weeks settling into her new role at the McKenzie Street Wonthaggi headquarters, getting up to speed with the programs she’ll be overseeing, including emergency relief, community meals, and fundraising, with her husband Ashley providing administrative support on a voluntary basis.
Seeing themselves as a team, the couple are taking a proactive approach to connecting with the community, exploring partnerships with other organisations, businesses and community groups, and establishing an online presence with the corps’ first official Facebook page (@WonthaggiSalvos).
They’ve spent the past eight years working for the Salvos, in rural South Australia, Tasmania and inner-city and suburban Melbourne; and although it’s still early days in Wonthaggi, they say the high level of need has already become apparent, with 30-plus people attending the emergency relief centre twice a week to access food and other essentials.
“That’s more than we’ve ever seen,” Amy said, suggesting the rising cost of renting in town could be part of the problem, but it was difficult to pinpoint the exact cause.
The imminent closure of the Miner’s Rest Caravan Park was another issue well and truly on the Salvos’ radar, Amy said, and it was vital that they remained closely involved throughout the process of preparing the White Road property for redevelopment into a Bunnings Warehouse retail outlet later this year.
“The major need [in Wonthaggi] is the relocation of people from the Miner’s Rest. And the Salvos and our Social Housing team are working with Bunnings and residents to ensure no one’s going to end up homeless,” she said.
Amy and Ashley are extending an open invitation to the community to come down and say hello and find out more about what the Salvos do.
With their son Zac getting closer to school age, the couple are looking forward to getting well acquainted with Wonthaggi and making it their home for the foreseeable future.
“We jumped at the chance to come to Wonthaggi,” Amy said.
“We really like working in the country, where the friendliness of the community is so evident, and everyone works and partners together.
“It’s such a beautiful sea change for us, coming from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, and it’s an exceedingly generous and kind environment to raise our son in. So, we’re here for as long as the Salvos will have us here.”
As well as drawing on the wisdom of their existing volunteer network and Sunday morning church congregation, they’ll be seeking new ideas to keep the Salvos moving forward along with the rest of the community.
“We’re so grateful for all those who’ve worked hard before us, and we look forward to adding to what they do – seeing where the gaps are and where we can fill them,” Amy said.
“I love talking about possibilities and seeing change happen in the corps and the community; and we’ve definitely got plans for Wonthaggi going forward.
“With how many people are moving here, it’s going to be the epicentre of the area, and we want to be part of that and ensure the Salvos have a sustainable future,” she said.
For more information about the support services offered by Wonthaggi Salvos, phone 5672 1228. To keep up to date with events such as their free weekly community meal, follow the Salvation Army Wonthaggi Facebook page.