Whilst the spotlight is no longer focused on the horrific Black Summer bushfires, the long road to recovery is only beginning for many communities.
Lions volunteers were some of the first on the ground and the first to provide emergency support to affected communities. This continues today.
In addition to those providing community service in affected areas, over $4.6 million of emergency funding was raised and distributed to communities as part of the Australian Lions Foundation’s National Bushfire Appeal. But the support from Lions did not stop there. Over the past two years, even through a health pandemic, volunteers have continued to support those affected and are focusing on helping communities rebuild.
A recent grant of $567,000 from Lions Clubs International Foundation is supporting 9 projects across 7 LGA’s ranging from Balmoral in the South of Sydney to Bruthan in Victoria.
One of the superhero team of volunteers spearheading this work is Past District Governor Gordon Matthews along with other Lions PDG Geoff Hobart, PCC Kim Forrest, PDG Neil Wingrave and DG Steve Boyce have coordinated the grant.
“The Black Summer bushfires devastated many communities. But when disaster strikes Lions volunteers roll up their sleeves and do what they can to help. That’s exactly what we did when the bushfires hit in 2019. From supporting frontline staff and those who had lost their homes to purchasing tanks and delivering water and rebuilding infrastructure, Lions have been providing vital support each day. But it takes many years for a community to recover from this kind of disaster.”
With many of these communities still picking up the pieces, Lions are working with other likeminded organisations to help them rebuild, and making these grants go even further. Just this month, Lions and Connecting Communities Australia (CCA) volunteers linked up to support those in the Kiah area, installing water tanks, clearing fence lines, removing fallen trees and repairing chicken runs.
“The most recent grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation is supporting 9 important projects across 7 LGA’s ranging from Balmoral in the South of Sydney to Bruthan in Victoria. We have consulted with local communities, groups and governments to see what they need most. The projects range from rebuilding halls, fencing, picnic shelters, BBQ areas, parks and toilet blocks to building memorial parks in locations where communities gathered during the fires.”
“This funding and the work of our local Lions volunteers is not only about recovery and reflection but also resilience. Many communities are investing in back up solar systems and we are also purchasing firefighter trailers which hold 1500 litres of water and can be used for back burning.”