ARAWATA community members are voluntarily offering up their time to ensure those who are lonely, elderly or have health issues, are supported.
It’s called the Arawata Telephone Tree.
At the end of March, as Victoria entered Stage Three lockdown for the first time, the Arawata Community Hall media committee noted that, although the ACHA3951 Facebook page was a public page, they knew of some residents who were not internet-savvy.
“Those residents may be feeling worried and lonely. We decided to collate an Arawata Telephone Tree, which is simply a record of people who are in a position to help, whether that be shopping, collecting prescription medicines or just talking and supporting their neighbours,” said one of the organisers, Jedda McDonogh.
“We also asked for the following, voluntarily provided, information for the conveners’ knowledge only: ‘If you live by yourself, are elderly or have any health issues, we would like to hear from you to ensure you have everything you need, this could turn into a lonely time and we want you to know that you are not alone.’
“There were some participants who kindly offered pet minding, meal cooking and other very specialised care. The register for these services is kept by the conveners.”
The Arawata community has embraced the concept of phone buddies and to quote their oldest resident, 90-year-old Jim White, “some terrific ongoing friendships have been made”.
Sometimes, nothing in life is more valued than a friendly ear, Jedda said.
“As the community continues with the COVID pandemic safety protocols in this second lockdown period, there is comfort and strength to be found in your local community and we are proud to say Arawata is here for its residents”.
Julie-Anne Trease said her youngest son Sebastian was to celebrate his eighth birthday in lockdown, but with no party, no friends visiting, no traditional family get together, or the usual four big events requiring four cakes, and no long visit from his interstate grandma.
“I texted the Arawata Phone Tree and asked if people had time in their life could they please drop a card or note in our letter box for Sebastian on his big day.
“A few lovely little parcels and cards arrived the day before, and on his birthday, we cleared the (big) letterbox three times. There were home-made cards, poems, notes, drawings, many thoughtful gifts, lollies, chocolate, and even 13 special drawings from a Karmai Children’s Community Centre kindergarten class.
“Many givers were people we have never met before, new to the area. The Arawata Tree made our family feel surrounded by the best of the world!”
As Sebastian’s head hit the pillow, he said: “This has been the best birthday ever.”
Never underestimate the power of your kindness.