Volunteer experience – Lobethal Mobile Food Hub
“On the day the fires came, we’re lucky the wind went the other way – it could have been us.”
That’s a reason Tricia Blanks and her husband Robert started volunteering with Foodbank SA, a time they have declared an “amazing experience”.
Their decision to join Foodbank came as last bushfire season devastated families and community members in the Adelaide Hills.
Last summer was a time all Australians banded together and showed community spirit through fundraising for bushfire-affected communities.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact most people economically, the Hills’ bushfire affected population is still dusting off from last summer – and without as much help.
The Lobethal mobile food hub services 20-25 customers on Tuesdays, and 29 on Fridays.
That’s where Tricia, 67, and Robert, 69, come in.
The Ashton residents recently retired and have dedicated themselves between Foodbank’s Edwardstown Food Hub, as well as its mobile food hubs in the Barossa and Lobethal.
But now, Tricia and Robert have decided to stay put in Lobethal one day per week, and are now part of a special family.
Tricia said volunteering at Foodbank was something she “thoroughly enjoyed”.
“It’s been absolutely amazing – we’ve got a very close relationship with the other volunteers and have even had one over for dinner,” she said.
When it comes to Robert’s roles in Lobethal, he stacks the Foodbank van and ensures the other volunteers continue supplying fresh fruit and vegetable produce at the front of shop.
One of Tricia’s most important roles is greeting customers when they arrive.
“They’ve gone through so much up here – their mental health is pretty fragile so to greet them and give them a good experience each week is fantastic,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful community in the hills and we’ve got to know our clients here – they’ve become friends to us as well.
“We know we’re helping them a great deal – not only with their food, but also their mental health.”
Tricia and Robert aren’t strangers to giving back to the community – they’ve been involved in working for refugee groups for the past 30 years and have recently taught English to an Afghani family.
But since retiring, Tricia and Robert have loved giving back to the hills community via Foodbank.
Tricia thought Foodbank did “wonderful things” for people.
“We’ve been seeing people at Lobethal but in Edwardstown – you see the most amazing group of volunteers that love what they do,” she said.
Authored by Ed McLeish
Ed joined Foodbank SA in July this year and comes from a journalism background. Ed dedicates his time between Foodbank and the Don Dunstan Foundation’s communications teams and loves storytelling.