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Winter Appeal 2021 – Tax Deductible Donation

Building resilience through floods, droughts, fires and the pandemic.

Fresh Hope Engage continues to provide support over the long-term, for families rebuilding after the devastating impacts of floods, drought and fires in recent years. Loss of livelihoods from the pandemic and negative impacts from isolation have made recovery even more challenging.

Fresh Hope Engage works with its partners to help families and communities not only recover from these disasters, but also build resilience and hope for the future.

When Hope and Faith Connect

By Naomi Giles

A veteran of community work of almost 35 years, Hope Connect’s Family Support Manager Stephanie Fett is fuelled by her faith and a desire to put love into action.

“When I became a Christian at 15, I naively thought that everyone should be training to be social workers, because why wouldn’t you seek to be equipped and skilled to do the work of loving your neighbour as yourself?” she laughs. 

“There’s wisdom that comes to us, answered prayer that comes to us; there’s a commitment to advocate

because we see that social justice is very important in the Word,” she says. “It’s not only us that’s doing the work; we have a God that’s working within what we do and bringing people to us.”

This foundation of faith is echoed by Telopea Christian Centre Senior Pastor Phil Ravesteyn, says the vision of Hope Connect is to exercise the love and compassion of Jesus. 

“It does bring that social welfare, care and compassion element to people, which is great, and there’s high regard for what the service brings to the whole local community,” he says. 

Phil says having Christian staff creates a great platform for working together.  

“It takes wisdom and intent to make sure we stay on track with the mission and ministry of God and keep working out of our Christian principles as we engage with helping the community,” he adds. 

Read the full story HERE.

Love where you are

By Naomi Giles

The geographical location of our ministries takes on a deeper meaning when a crisis hits. In those moments, rapid response is needed from the whole community, and some churches are finding they can provide a meeting place for all.

Pastor Glen Clark has been ministering in the Hawkesbury area for 15 years but found himself in the thick of a crisis in April this year when a deluge hit, causing a dam overflow and flooding into parts of Londonderry. 

When Glen realised what was happening, he rode his bike to Singleton to get to the church’s community centre, Thrive, and be available to provide for people in need.

“We wanted to make sure we could get food to people. We got Big W and Woolworths vouchers and started handing them out. We had a huge food donation from the charity Hands and Feet too, and we became like a community pantry for people,” he says.

Glen says that although the region is known for floods, this flood was different, pushing into areas not usually impacted.

 “These people haven’t seen floods like this before,” he explains. “They literally lost everything; nothing was insured for flood.”

Glen says the other reason some people chose not to insure is that they could not afford it. The whole area has been marked as a flood risk, so the premiums run into the thousands, well beyond the reach of many local people.

Connecting with the local community is not new to the Londonderry community church – with programs like tutoring, holiday clubs, community markets and music groups operating out of the church’s Thrive shopfront.

But the recent flood has cemented the church’s role in the wider community, with positive feedback coming from individuals and the local council.

Continue reading HERE.

Winter Appeal 2021 – Resilience

By Naomi Giles

NSW and the ACT have endured many challenges in recent years, with bushfires, drought, floods, plagues and COVID-19 impacting whole communities. Lives have been lost, properties destroyed, finances strained, and many small businesses have been forced to close.

Often there is a surge of help when a crisis hits, but what happens in the aftermath? We spoke with a number of our Fresh Hope churches about how they have walked with people in the longer term and the resilience that rises from among the people they meet.

In coastal areas where economies are tied to the rise and fall of the tourist trade, some of the realities of bushfire, flood and COVID-19 have bitten hard.

Nicole Gorzalka, a Fresh Hope chaplain in Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast, says the region has been battered over the past 18 months.

“The fires on January 1st 2020 were enormous and then pretty well straight away we went into COVID, and then we had three additional floods that happened in that year,” she says.

Nicole, a Batemans Bay resident all her life, says the domino effect of crisis after crisis has affected people’s wellbeing.

The residents of The Glen aged care home, where she works as chaplain, are just starting to find normal rhythms again after a prolonged period of high stress.

“When the fires came, they all had to stay in place, 90 residents watching fire burning all around them. And that happened only around eight weeks before COVID hit, so there wasn’t a huge amount of time between the fires and getting shut down, and, really, they were still on high alert from the fires,” Nicole says.

Nicole has witnessed a change in many local people’s outlook on life, with more generosity being displayed, a greater buy-in to supporting appeals and projects, and a rise in volunteering.

“There’s a whole group of people who have really bounced back, with some real strengthening of some community spirit in our area,” she says.

Continue reading HERE.

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Winter Appeal 2021 (Project Code 223278206)

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