Every time you read the news there’s another story of fire, loss and environmental destruction. It’s easy to get bogged down by the gloom and negativity. But there is good news: every day, we are also seeing more individuals and communities getting on board to assist those affected. One such group is the Beechmountain Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA), consisting of 56 volunteer members and led by President Leonie Smith. This group of women provides an extensive variety of support including (but not limited to): women’s services, community health, interest groups, social community activities and, particularly recently, bushfire relief.
During the September 2019 bushfires, Beechmountain CWA truly proved their resourcefulness, strong community connection and capacity for kindness. At the peak of the crisis, the CWA was running a 24/7 operation, feeding 200 firefighters five times a day. Over the course of six days they made regular trips up and down the mountain, delivering a total of about 6000 meal packs including messages of encouragement and thanks – all donated generously from the community’s home pantries and businesses from Jimboomba to the Gold Coast and funded by the branch’s small cash reserves.
The remarkable efforts made by these women were recognised on World Kindness Day last year, when they were awarded ‘The Ambassador’s Prize for Kindness’. Additionally, the QCWA helped in the community by distributing interactive books to the parents and children experiencing anxiety and displacement caused by natural disasters. Each book provided information about recognising the first signs of smoke right through to recovery.
With the assistance of QCWA Branches in the region, The State Office Crisis Fund and media exposure via Facebook, QCWA raised over $50,000 to assist and support those families and individuals that had lost homes and those in the community that were impacted by the fires. Quilting groups from Springbrook, Nerang, Brisbane and as far away as Western Australia donated hand-crafted comfort quilts for children and adults. Brunswick Heads CWA reached out to branches with their branch initiative ‘Brunswick Heads Bushfire R & R’ which provided accommodation for a week for those who lost homes, and Brunswick Heads Businesses supported families with vouchers at local stores and businesses. The branch members also provided practical grass roots assistance with the ‘Ash Army’ clean up, helping with housing of displaced families.
In terms of the future of the Beechmountain QCWA, a new Community Hub facility is currently in planning and development at Lower Beechmont with Gold Coast City Council which will provide a space for community connections and activities, and the ladies are hopeful that this facility will be approved in the upcoming council budgets. This small community hub building will be a connection space for all interest groups on the mountain and will enable the branch to deliver health and wellbeing awareness programs, a social space and outpost for GC Library community programs.
To show your support for the remarkable women of the Beechmountain QCWA, you can visit their Facebook page.