Rallying to help when the community needs it the most11 May 2022
Sub Branches across Queensland rallied together during the recent floods in South East Queensland.
Sub Branches across Queensland pitched in to help with the flood recovery.
From Helidon RSL Sub Branch becoming the official evacuation centre for the Lockyer Valley and the Pine Rivers RSL Sub Branch transforming into a disaster relief hub, to the Gympie RSL Sub Branch pounding the pavement to check in on residents – many Sub Branch volunteers have played a vital role in helping those in need.
Gympie RSL Sub Branch Secretary Martin Muller says when people volunteer, they often think they are giving something to someone.
“But the weird thing is you actually probably get more out of it than you put in,” he explains.
“You get a sense of purpose and feeling a part of something that matters.”
“It is the little bits of all of it that makes the cake. It’s the people in our community who made 50 phone calls a day during COVID lockdowns to check in on our members, the people driving someone to an appointment, or sitting with a 102-year-old veteran while you share a cup of tea.
“Volunteering reconnects you with the same attributes we talk about on days of significance throughout the year. Humility, ingenuity, humour – they are the things that make us Australian, and we’ve always had these traits within us.”
DIGGING DEEP IN TIMES OF DISASTER
Roly turned two during the floods. The family had lost everything and were staying in a motel, so the Gympie RSL Sub Branch surprised them with a birthday cake and presents.
Gympie RSL Sub Branch and their community, like other regions in South East Queensland, were faced with some of the worst floods in the region in late February.
“It all happened very quickly,” Martin says.
“We started with a small group of people going to houses that were getting surface or ground water not receding and started digging trenches and moving things out of the way.”
Following a “gut instinct” he had about checking on one of their members, Martin and his team had to think quickly on their feet to help an 83-year-old war widow.
“We knew she was frail and hard of hearing, and when we went to check on her, we were knocking and calling out to her with no response,” he explains.
“She speaks Filipino, so we reached out to another of our volunteers whose wife is also Filipino. She was able to contact her and confirm she was inside.”
By this point, Martin says the water had risen to the deck of the house.
“We carried her out in waist-deep water and it still sits with me weeks later thinking of what could have happened if we weren’t able to get her out. The water ended up being right up to the roof.
“We also put out a call to help gather items for people who had lost everything and had about six carloads of things like food, water, toiletries, and blankets donated by the community.
“It makes me emotional thinking about all the ways our community came together to help. They are an amazing bunch of people. We have 550 members and they all chipped in.”
It is an attitude that carries across many Sub Branches, with Pine Rivers RSL Sub Branch President Margaret Lord saying they were only too happy to make their venue the HQ for Disaster Relief Australia (DRA).
“Some couldn’t get out and volunteer as part of clean-up efforts, but being on-site at our Sub Branch supporting the volunteers and Disaster Relief Australia was a way they could play a part in the community clean-up effort,” Margaret explains.
“We were proud to be able to coordinate everything as quickly as we did and see the outpouring of help in whatever way members were able – from cooking meals and even offering rooms for veterans experiencing hardship from the floods.”
Likewise, although brought about by a natural disaster, it demonstrates a willingness to help and lift others up in their time of need that exists every day across RSL Queensland.
“This is something our Sub Branch carries out regularly, not just during a disaster,” Margaret says.
“We always try to help where we can. And for anyone stopping in that wasn’t aware of all the ways RSL Queensland can help, it was a chance for us to share what we can do for them.”
LEARN MORE ABOUT NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK
The Pine Rivers RSL Sub Branch became a temporary headquarters for Disaster Relief Australia.
National Volunteer Week (16 May - 22 May) shines a light on the ways volunteering brings us all together, builds community and recognises the vital work of volunteers. Find your local RSL Sub Branch by visiting rslqld.org or learn more about how you can volunteer at volunteeringqld.org.au.
National Volunteer Week (16 May - 22 May) shines a light on the ways volunteering brings us all together, builds community and recognises the vital work of volunteers. Find your local RSL Sub Branch and become a member of RSL Queensland, or learn about other volunteering opportunities at volunteeringqld.org.au.