Mudgee's volunteer-run We Care Community Shop has asked the local community to return the favour and lend a hand as it struggles to pay rent during lockdown.
Donna Collins who runs the store explained that before lockdown things were going well. As part of her work with local seniors Donna organised to get vital call alarm systems installed in three seniors units. This was costly but Donna knew they would be able to recoup the costs as they continued to trade.
But, as fate would have it, the region went into lockdown soon after, forcing Donna to close the doors, leaving the business with little left in the bank and Donna said since lockdown, despite being on a reduced rent rate, other bills like insurance, power and storage are hitting hard. "It's just chewed up everything that we've got, so to reopen I had to go public and say, 'look, we need the community to support us' to get our doors reopened again," she said.
Donna made the tough call to ask for donations to keep the business afloat, making a post on the businesses Facebook page. Donna said she exhausted the avenues available to businesses during the pandemic but for the volunteer-based business, it was difficult to get help from the government.
"It wasn't an easy thing for me to do - to make it public, it really wasn't. I think because we had so many people against us when we first wanted to open the shop four years ago, and I said 'no, I can do this'. I guess in a way it feels like a bit of a failure," Donna said.
"I know it's not but that's how it felt."
Donna said she has no regrets about purchasing the vital calls for the elderly residents. "One of my gentlemen that has got the vital call alarm, he's used it three times now and you know, the ambulance has come and picked him up. So I guess I have to weigh up, what is his life worth?"
"I'll pay the rent for as long as I can with the money that comes in. And then the shop will trade its way out of it so that none of our programs are compromised.
"We're trying to be proactive and trying to stay positive. But basically, this was the only way out that I could personally see was - 'hey guys, look, we've had your back for so long. Can you have ours just for... just this one time?"
Rachael Innes who runs Church Street's Simply Fresh takeaway said the We Care Community Shop is too important for the community to lose. The store has become the first collection point for cash donations to Donna and the store.
"I thought 'we're open, bugger it', we'll jump on board. Donna provides me with all my dog blankets for my dog breeding and that kind of stuff, she can't shut down," she said. "Once they reopen, it's gonna be a while before they make that kind of money back.
"I know that if we were struggling and they weren't, they would do whatever they could do to help us."
You can donate via bank transfer, see details below, or pop into Simply Fresh to make a cash donation.
- Community Shop
- Account #: 4515 05948
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