The Australian Community Care Network (ACCN) Grafton base is now open.
Since 5am, Alison Tomlinson and her dedicated team of volunteers have been busy ensuring the shelves are stocked, fresh produce has been laid out and the till is ready to trade.
Currently, the centre is open between 9am – 2pm, Monday to Friday, allowing local residents who are experiencing hardship, on low income or going through a crisis situation, to shop for personal goods and household supplies at affordable prices.
ACCN focuses on establishing groups of people and local businesses to unit to provide care, help and assistance to those in need and offer additional support via counselling, sharing of resources and providing meals for the hungry.
Ms Tomlinson said everyone is welcome and a special seating area has also been set up in accordance with social distancing laws so people can sit and chat if they feel lonely or want to share a story.
The centre can hold a maximum of 20 customers at a time, plus volunteers.
“We want people to know that we are here for them and we’ll do anything we can to help, regardless of their circumstances,” Ms Tomlinson said.
Russell Jones, overseer of the Grafton base, is pastor of the Abundant Life Church in Coffs Harbour.
After the church founded the ACCN and established a base in Coffs Harbour, Mr Jones credits Ms Tomlinson for having the vision to establish a base in Grafton.
“Our region is going to suffer post Covid-19 as a lot of businesses won’t be able to reopen again which will create more people in need,” Mr Jones said.
“It is due to Alison’s hard work and vision that we have been able to open a place for the community to come to here in Grafton.
“It’s awesome to be able to reach out to the community because there are a lot of people in need.”
Ms Tomlinson is still encouraging anyone who would like to volunteer to help at the ACCN Grafton base to contact her on 0457 197 427 or call 66 441 369.
She is also encouraging local business and corporate sponsors to get on board, adding she is also looking for help from the Grafton community to organise signage for the front of the Grafton Base.
The ACCN Grafton base is located at 117 Fitzroy Street.