‘The Mend and Make Do Crew Incorporated’ founder Ursula Tunks took time last week to reflect on being named the ‘2020 Clarence Electorate Woman of the Year’, by Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.
“Personally, it was terrifying, awkward and a PTSD trigger – but it was pretty cool that they’ve noticed what we do (within the community) and the work that the team does, is valued,” Ursula said.
“It’s an affirmation of the worth of what we do, which is really awesome.
“It’s great acknowledgement for all our volunteers and what we’ve built and I think that it also acknowledges that there is a massive need (within our community) as well,” she said.
Ursula said that Mend and Make Do started in early 2014 as a Facebook group.
“In 2015 we became incorporated before opening as a not-for-profit Op Shop in 2016,” Ursula said.
“We have a range of care kits that we produce: a range of toiletry kits (male, female, kids, babies and family) and linen kits, cleaning kits, new home starter kits, kitchen starter kits and firies kits etc,” Ursula said.
“We have just produced our 10,000th care kit.
“We had a trial run with these kits (to a smaller scale) during the Lismore floods, where we got toiletry kits up to the Lismore evacuation centre, but with the enormity of the fires (on the other hand) was a real test, where we had to respond quickly – so I was pretty stoked with (how we coped with) that.
“We provided packs to Rappville, Baryulgil, Yugilbar Station, we sent a lot up to Copmanhurst – which were distributed to the more remote areas and then Nymboida.
“One of the first things that we did for Nymboida was to provide crockery and kitchen items to be able to feed the community at the evacuation hub. I think we needed to provide place settings for 70.
“Then as those who had lost their homes moved out into accommodation, we were providing them with the new home starter kits.
“We also sent a lot of kits down to Nana Glen and Glenreagh and we even got some of the RFS crew kits (lip balm, eye wash, lozenges, protective eyewear, dust masks, Ventolin, sunblock, toilet paper, wet wipes, Panadol, lollies and muesli bars – for a quick boost of energy), down to Wauchope.
These firies kits are really great, especially for remote crews who don’t have any access to shops or a chemist.
“I’d heard that someone from Sydney came up and grabbed two of the kits from Copmanhurst and took them back to Sydney and they started replicating them on-mass.
“They filtered down to the south coast and Canberra fires and some of our local firies reported that they had these kits available at the Base Camp headquarters – which they didn’t have before.
“I’d just like to thank all the volunteers, the teams, the people that donate what we need and all those who have supported us.
“But nothing will ever be more rewarding than when someone picks up their new home starter kit and you see the tears and big sob of relief, that – ‘oh my gosh we don’t have to go and get all this stuff’ and receive the hugs – you just cannot put a value on how awesome that is,” she said.