Funding boost for community heroes

Sally and Gary share a Covid-safe ''handshake''.

By Danielle Kutchel

With many in the community doing it tough during Covid, community groups are working tirelessly to provide assistance to those who need it.

Their work has not gone unnoticed, with Bendigo Community Bank stepping in to provide much-needed funding for four Casey-based community groups to put towards their work.

The recipients were:

The Sikh Community, which received $10,000

Gethsemane Church Charity which received $5000

Backpacks for Vic Kids which received $5000

Menzies Caring for Kids which received $5000

Gary Rowe, former Casey councillor and now business development manager at the bank, handed out the cheques at a Covid-safe ceremony at Selandra Rise Community Centre on Thursday 5 November.

Mr Rowe explained to the gathering that Bendigo Community Bank has a commitment to give back a portion of its profits to the community, such as in the form of funding for community groups.

“We look forward to helping you all in continuing to help others,” he said.

In addition, some of the groups who received funding are set to benefit from another gift, sharing in 700 bottles of hand sanitiser, worth $5000, purchased by the City of Casey.

In a statement, City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff said the sanitiser would be distributed to 12 emergency food relief groups as well as the Cranbourne Information and Support Centre.

“These organisations work to support our most vulnerable and in-need community members. The bottles will then be distributed on to their clients, for whom sanitiser is an additional and problematic household expense, in order to help these residents stay Covid-safe,” she said.

Kerrigan La-Brooy, founder of Gethsemane Church and Charity, said the Community Bank funding was “a God-send” that would help them cope with increased demand.

“Especially in times like this, it’s perfect timing,” he said.

“We’re looking for things like a truck and cool room so it will go on something like that. It will definitely enhance what we have, as we want to help the community in a bigger way.”

Greg Lacey from Menzies said the funding would have a large impact on the organisation’s various programs and on achieving their core mission of improving the lives of disadvantaged kids.

“$5000 for us is another term of paediatric care for a school. This will impact families and multiple people,” he said.

Research has shown the paediatric program has greatly improved trust amongst disadvantaged children and their families, among numerous other benefits, which has flow on effects in the child’s life.

For Cranbourne-based charity Backpacks for Vic Kids, which provides backpacks filled with essentials and comforts to children and young people in care, the funding will help them provide a bit of happiness to even more children across the state.

For the Sikh community volunteers, the funding will be immensely useful as they scale up operations in response to the pandemic.

“It’s a great appreciation from the Bendigo Bank, and we’re delighted to accept. Because of Covid, our volunteers work very hard so this is an appreciation of them,” said Gurumukh Singh, a volunteer with the Sikh community.

“Nowadays we are serving food in six councils, on average 400 meals everyday. During Covid I think more than 100,000 meals have been served,” he added.

The community will re-commence their food van service now that Covid restrictions have eased, and Bhupinder Singh, also a volunteer, said a second food van was on the cards thanks to Bendigo Bank’s funding.


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