It’s been three months since Newling Gardens Village Manager Sue Nelson has been able to see her house from the garden, such is the intensity of the smoke that hangs heavy across Armidale. Fire has ravaged the town for months, but she and the Newling Gardens residents are some of the lucky ones.
Neil and Sandra Booth are not so lucky. They live on the outskirts of Armidale and, after struggling with drought for years, have now lost their home and belongings to bushfire.
Sue and Newling Gardens receptionist Donna Keeping decided to help by raising money for local families directly. At a residents’ committee meeting on 9th December, Sue and Donna showed a video of the Booth family. “You will see the family standing in front of all that is left of part of a shed, you will see them trying to put fire breaks in with dozers, you will see them still feeding cattle, and at the end you will see the sign ‘Clarence temporary closed for restoration,’” said Sue.
“We recently sold our last available villa in the village. That means we have display unit furniture with nowhere to put it. We decided to give the furniture to the Booth family, and Neil and Sandra came in to say thank you, along with their daughter and granddaughter. Words couldn’t express their gratitude. It was beautiful to see these people, I still tear up just thinking about it.”
The Booth family aren’t the only ones suffering, and they’re not the only family that the Newling Gardens community has helped.
“Fire has also affected Glen Innes,” explained Sue. “A whole little village was burnt out. We have three or four residents from Glen Innes, and their hearts are probably still in Glen Innes. We want to give back to that community too.”
Newling Gardens residents have banded together to donate $1,000 to buy Christmas presents for Glen Innes children, as well as a further $1,000 for GrazAg, which provides food for families who are camping at the local showgrounds after losing their homes. The Newling Gardens team – staff and residents alike – truly reflect the RA values of One Team by pulling together as a community and helping others.
If you would like to donate to those affected by bushfires, The Guardian has put together a comprehensive list of charities and how they help local communities.