19 October, 2020

Words: Sue Beament – ADRA Manager at Ferntree Gully

One freezing, wet and windy Monday, volunteers were dodging raindrops to load up cars with food packages. By 2pm, the delivery drivers were off when an old van entered the car park.

A woman, Amanda*, climbed out and hurried through the rain to our reception area. She stood shivering under the cover at the front door of our church, unable to come inside because of COVID, and asked for help. I offered up a quick prayer and asked what her greatest need was. Amanda lifted her foot and showed me her boot. There was a gaping hole in her boot, the upper and sole parted revealing her soggy sock. The other boot wasn’t much better.

We dispatched one of the team to get Amanda a hot drink and something to eat, while another checked with the clothing store. The rest of us continued to serve other clients while our receptionist and I moved things around in reception, made it COVID-safe and brought Amanda inside.

Another team member reported we had nothing in Amanda’s shoe size, but she was armed with warm clothes, socks and jackets (our own supply had recently been replenished by Wantirna’s recent Winter Warmer Drive). Amanda was size 10. Ah, wonderful, I thought. My daughter and granddaughter were both size 10 and they only live 10 minutes away. I rang and left a message of what we needed, asking if they help. My daughter rang back after 10 minutes, during a teaching break. I zipped over to her house and picked up a pair of sneakers, a parcel of clothes and a bag which my daughter explained had a personal gift in it for Amanda.

A different Amanda met me when I arrived back at the church. She had colour in her face, was dressed in a fuzzy warm jacket and track pants, with her hands wrapped around a hot drink.

Amanda at the ADRA program in Ferntree Gully – face blurred for privacy reasons

She gave me a smile, her eyes still wet with unshed tears. The sneakers fit and then she pulled out a lovely jumper and matching cashmere wrap from the parcel. They were so lovely and she just hugged them to her chest. I gave her the little present to unwrap, telling her that this was a gift for her. A gift to show her someone cared, and that God cared too. It was a ring and earrings matching the colour of the scarf. She burst into tears.

All our volunteers had tears in their eyes.

At the end of the day, we were physically drained, but strangely energized. Most of our Ferntree Gully volunteers are former clients, and they knew how it felt to be in Amanda’s wet boots! And they recognized that they could make a difference in people’s life.

And that’s why I love serving at ADRA.

*Name changed for privacy reasons