Bushfire Appeal 2020 – Tax Deductible Donation

This bushfire season has been devastating. Fresh Hope Engage is raising much needed funds through its Bushfire Appeal to assist families and communities impacted by the fires. We will send weekly Facebook updates about the Bushfire appeal: how you can help, how you can access help, how help is being given, and how you can join us in prayer. 

About the Appeal: Funds raised through the Fresh Hope Engage Bushfire Appeal will be distributed via local Churches of Christ in bushfire affected areas. Through their networks and relationships in their local communities, our churches will provide assistance to families and people in need through provisions of food, clothing, accommodation, and for restoring furniture, tools and equipment. Where possible, Churches will also offer pastoral care and counselling to recipients of any assistance provided.

How You Can Help: Funds is what is most needed. You can donate via our appeal here. Please encourage your churches and networks to do the same. 

How you Can Access Help: If you, your church, or people in your community have been impacted by the bushfires and are in need of assistance, please contact Fresh Hope Engage: [email protected] or 8573 6000

Update - 20 February

We would have been okay if it was a bushfire,” he said. “But it was a firestorm, a big angry beast.”

One of the families Fresh Hope Engage provided urgent assistance to, has told their story to the Daily Telegraph. A firefighter with the RFS, Steve lost his own home whilst fighting fires for others. Steve talks about how this fire was different to others. “We watched a rolling cloud of smoke and heat combine with a pyrocumulus system which sent the encroaching fire front into overdrive. Everything that came in contact with this was just exploding,” he said. “There were so many houses on fire and we couldn’t do a thing about them.” You can read the full article by following this link.

How Help is Being Given, Updated 20 February 2020:

  • $50,600 received to date in Bushfire appeal donations. Thank you for your generosity and for helping us reach our $50,000 target.
  • $2,300 distributed this week from the Bushfire appeal

How You Can Join Us In Prayer, Updated 20 February 2020: 

  • Pray for people who have lost their homes to the fires, as they return to clean up and start to rebuild
  • Pray for our chaplains as they serve many people “traumatised” by the fires and their losses
  • For local churches in Bowral, Nowra, Bateman’s Bay, Katoomba and churches along the North Coast as they seek to help people in need in their local communities
Update - 13 February

“This street was horrific to drive along – barely a house left”

We’ve had a lot of rain lately, for which we give thanks for answered prayers. The recovery process for many who lost their homes still continues though.

Fresh Hope Engage Chaplain, Nicole Gorzalka in Bateman’s Bay reports another story of a father and his 4 children escaping the fires.

Ken renting a home with his four boys (eight children in total). They were located on a road just east of Mogo. This street was horrific to drive along barely a house left. 

Ken received a text at 6am that Mogo was on fire and they were at a watch an act level. They began to prepare to evacuate. He had one car, four boys and two dogs, which meant they could not take very much. 

At 7am they got in the car to leave and were met by a fire truck who escorted them to safety. Ken said the heat was incredible and the fire was still one hour away from burning his home down. 

This family had to leave all the Christmas presents most of their clothes and all of their worldly possessions. Unfortunately Ken only gets paid as he works. With all of the evacuating and blackouts he has not had any work.

Fresh Hope Engage Bushfire Appeal Funds distributed from the bushfire appeal to Ken and his family, providing some immediate assistance in purchasing essential supplies.

How Help is Being Given, Updated 13 February 2020: 

  • $48,165 received to date in Bushfire appeal donations.  
  • $3,000 distributed this week from the Bushfire appeal
  • $23,000 distributed to families in need to date

How You Can Join Us In Prayer, Updated 13 February 2020: 

  • Pray for Ken and many others in similar situations, that he will find work and be able to provide for his family, whilst recovering from so much loss
  • Pray for our chaplains as they serve many people “traumatised” by the fires and their losses
  • For local churches in Bowral, Nowra, Bateman’s Bay, Katoomba and churches along the North Coast as they seek to help people in need in their local communities
Update - 6 February

“He then drove to his house and found it had burned to the ground.”

Fresh Hope Engage Chaplain, Nicole Gorzalka in Bateman’s Bay reports the story of a courageous firefighter who Fresh Hope Engage has assisted and is continuing to help:

Steve has been a volunteer firefighter for over 20 years… 
New Years Eve he did his 12 hr shift and radioed for his team to be relieved. However, he was told everywhere is on fire and there is no one and no truck to come and relieve you…. just do what you can. 
So, they stayed and completed a 24 hr straight shift saving many homes. When they finally returned to the fire sheds he found his ute (with tools in the back) melted from the heat of the fire. Two other guys found their vehicles melted too. 
He then drove to his house and found it had burned to the ground. They were badly underinsured. His work truck needs replacing and the insurance will not cover the cost of a new truck and the tools he has lost.

How Help is Being Given, Updated 6 February 2020: 

  • $46,500 received to date in Bushfire appeal donations.  

How You Can Join Us In Prayer, Updated 6 February 2020: 

  • Pray for many people like Steve, as they sort through was has been lost, whilst needing to work to provide for their families
  • Pray for our chaplains as they serve many people “traumatised” by the fires and their losses
  • Pray for local churches in Bowral, Nowra, Bateman’s Bay, Katoomba and churches along the North Coast as they seek to help people in need in their local communities
Update - 30 January

‘Powerless’ in the face of ferocious fires

Fresh Hope Engage continues to assess needs and in this last week has provided further financial assistance to people who have lost their home. Pastoral Care is so important when people are suffering so much loss. A number of Fresh Hope ministers and chaplains are also Disaster Recovery Chaplains and have been actively involved in providing pastoral care support.

Peter Wakeley, Chaplain at Wyong Hospital for Fresh Hope, was deployed with the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN) to the Kempsey/Macksville area in late November 2019 in response to the fires that brought such devastation to that area. Peter was involved in the ‘recovery’ phase and worked with two other DRCN chaplains alongside the government Disaster Welfare staff, the Red Cross volunteers and local council staff providing support to people in deep shock and grief after they had experienced significant loss and trauma from the fires.

This was especially so in Willawarrin, a small township to the north west of Kempsey, and the surrounding farming properties that were devastated by the fires. Peter heard stories of heartbreak and deep grief as people shared about homes, sheds, livestock, fences and farmland destroyed. There were also stories of escape from the fires as people worked together to help one another in very, very scary times. 

One such story was of a husband and wife whose house on their farming property was surrounded by flames. As they desperately fought back the fires, a helicopter appeared overhead, and its siren urged them to leave. In the stress and trauma of the moment she never heard the siren, but together they managed to just make their escape, protected by two fire trucks who shielded them from the flames as they drove down the dirt road away from their home. Very sadly, this couple – like so many others we have heard of in recent weeks – lost everything, with the helicopter managing to save their neighbours property.

This woman, and many others, appreciated having someone who was willing to listen, empathise and care. She, along with others that Peter and his colleagues listened too, have many questions, are struggling with loss and grief at many levels, are traumatised by what they experienced, spoke of being ‘powerless’ in the face of ferocious fires, are feeling some anger and frustration, are uncertain about their future and so much more. Despite all that they have faced, Peter often saw in those impacted by the fires a deep resilience, the Aussie sense of humour, a strong desire to help others in their community and the importance of hope. The DRCN chaplains were also able to support the front-line relief and recovery staff who do a great job in helping others as they too hear many stories of heartbreak, loss and deep need – which is often complex and multifaceted.

As we have heard, support will be needed for a long time to come for those impacted in many ways by these terrible fires, and our support through this Bushfire Appeal can help towards meeting these needs.

How Help is Being Given, Updated 30 January 2020: 

  • $40,700 received to date in Bushfire appeal donations. Further donations are needed. 
  • $3,000 distributed this week from the Bushfire appeal to 6 individual families

How You Can Join Us In Prayer, Updated 30 January 2020: 

  • Pray for our chaplains as they serve many people “traumatised” by the fires and their losses
  • Pray for families and individuals assisted by Fresh Hope in this last week
  • For local churches in Bowral, Nowra, Bateman’s Bay, Katoomba and churches along the North Coast as they seek to help people in need in their local communities
Update - 23 January

“The roar of the fire was so loud!”
Last week, Fresh Hope was able to release cash funds for several individuals affected by the fire in the Bateman’s Bay / Mogo region, through connections made by our local chaplain, Nicole Gorzalka.
One man from Mogo, who received assistance from Fresh Hope, has given permission for his story to be shared here….
“On New Year’s eve I woke at 5:30am, I heard a roar and could smell smoke. I estimated the fire was 5kms away at this point. I got up and looked outside and could feel the heat. At 6:30am my property came under ember attack. I went down the paddock and put out each of the spot fires. At 7:30 the roar of the fire was so loud I decided to leave the property. As I drove down the driveway a wall of fire was coming towards me. I had to reverse back to the house, I stopped the car, grabbed my hose and tried to fight the flames for a while but the fire was too big. I grabbed the dog and ran with him until I was out of the line of the fire.”

This man lost two homes, all of his tools (he is a plumber), his ute is severely damaged but is drivable. His daughter had stored all of her things at his house while travelling, and nothing of hers was salvageable. He said the worst part was he had no phone service for five days and was not able to contact his daughter who was in complete distress as she thought he had died in the fire.

Chaplain Nicole Gorzalka, reports that these events have left this man completely traumatised and that he never wants to see a fire ever again.
He is very thankful for the support he has received, and will never forget the church’s generosity as the money will really help him get back on his feet.

How Help is Being Given, Updated 23 January 2020:
• $37,500 received to date in Bushfire appeal donations. Further donations are needed.
• $12,000 distributed this week from the Bushfire appeal to 6 individual families

How You Can Join Us In Prayer, Updated 23 January 2020:
• Pray for families and individuals assisted by Fresh Hope in this last week
• Pray for our chaplains as they serve many people traumatised by the fires and their losses
• For local churches in Bowral, Nowra, Bateman’s Bay, Katoomba and churches along the North Coast as they seek to help people in their local communities
• We give thanks for the rain, but please continue to pray for the longer-term recovery needed

Update - 16 January

Many of the bushfire relief activities this week have centred on containment, clean up and assessing the damage. Many people have returned to their homes and properties, seeing the destruction for the first time.

Last week a Fresh Hope team from Sydney travelled to Bateman’s Bay to help contain ember fires at The Glen (Aged care facility) where residents and staff remain on high alert.

How Help is Being Given, Updated 16 January 2020: 

  • $34,650 received to date in Bushfire appeal donations. Further donations are needed. 
  • $6,000 distributed this week from the Bushfire appeal, with further needs being assessed
  • This week, we have distributed emergency funds from the Appeal to 3 individuals connected with Fresh Hope who have lost their homes to the fires.

How You Can Join Us In Prayer, Updated 16 January 2020: 

  • Fresh Hope staff members who have lost their homes
  • For local churches in Bowral, Nowra, Bateman’s Bay, Katoomba and churches along the North Coast as they seek to help people in need in their local communities
  • Disaster Recovery Chaplains deployed from Fresh Hope through the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network http://www.nswdrcn.org.au/
  • Residents and staff and our chaplains in Fresh Hope Care facilities, who remain on high alert in Mittagong, Bateman’s Bay and Nowra
Update - 9 January

How Help is Being Given, Update 9 January 2020:

  • $30,000 received to date in Bushfire appeal donations. More is needed. 
  • Appeal funds sent to Bowral Church of Christ to assist families resupply tools and equipment
  • Tweed Heads Church of Christ have opened their Sports Centre to collect supplies to send where needed down south https://www.facebook.com/tweedcoc/
  • Relief efforts being coordinated through local churches in Bowral, Nowra, Bateman’s Bay, Katoomba and churches along the North Coast

How You Can Join Us In Prayer, Update 9 January 2020: 

  • Two members of Bowral Church of Christ lost their homes in Balmoral in the fires before Christmas
  • Pastor Brian Dixon of former Eden Church of Christ has been working tirelessly in his SES Chaplaincy role in Eden and has requested prayer
  • Disaster Recovery Chaplains deployed from Fresh Hope through the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network http://www.nswdrcn.org.au/
  • Residents and staff in Fresh Hope Care facilities being evacuated or preparing for evacuation, particularly in Mittagong, Bateman’s Bay and Nowra who remain on high alert

A note from Andrew Ball:

“With the current catastrophic bush fire conditions across NSW, Fresh Hope through its Engage Ministry has launched a Bush fire appeal. Funds made to this appeal are tax deductible, and we will distribute monies raised back through each of our local churches within bush fire affected areas.

We hope to raise sufficient monies to immediately begin distribution to impacted areas. When loss and disaster strikes, it is imperative that we mobilise resources to assist churches in their endeavours to help those impacted by fires.

We continue to pray for families, communities and firefighters impacted during this season.”

Dr Andrew Ball
Executive Ministry Director

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Bushfire Appeal 2019 (Project Code 223278201)

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