Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jessaholics Luncheon in Historic Bendigo, Saturday 27 August 2011

Hello Everyone Around the World,

Our fourth Jessaholics luncheon was held in Bendigo, a historic town in the state of Victoria, Australia. Bendigo is considered one of the leading provincial towns in the state and has a history spanning more than 150 years. Bendigo was built on the foundation of its key industry - gold production and deep reef mining.

As a group, we had another good reason to choose Bendigo. Evie, who has been through a lot lately, lives there and we all wanted her to be a big part of this, yet another, special day.

The group converged on Bendigo on Saturday the 27th of August by various means of transportation, including a "private air charter" (Clint and Jonathan). Brian flew in from Tasmania and Faye, Max, Ailsa, Sally, Collette, Pete and a very special couple from South Australia drove up to Bendigo for the weekend. We even had Evie's daughter, son-in-law and grandson join us.

Evie organised a private room at the Bendigo RSL (Returned Services League) Club and it turned out to be a great location. The courtyard of the club even had an old WWII Spitfire on display amongst other vintage hardware.

Ailsa had a nice surprise for us by bringing and playing her banjo and accompanied by the groups varying vocal skills, we managed to belt out a few old tunes.

Good food and great conversation made it a very enjoyable afternoon. Even the notoriously fickle weather in these parts was kind to us and we had sunshine and mild temperatures.

The atmosphere was one of warmth, friendship, happiness and familiarity. It continues to fascinate that a singular common interest, young Jess, has created a strong and enduring bond within the group. And we are just getting warmed up ! There is much more to come !

                                  Evie and Ailsa

                                  Ailsa, Faye and Clint

                                  Standing L-R : Max, Faye, Ailsa, Clint, Colette
                                                        Pete, Evie's daughter and son-in-law
                                  Seated L-R : Brian, Evie, Sally, Jonathan

                                             Ailsa !

                                  Relaxing and enjoying each others company

                                  Varying vocal talent !

                                  Clint and Jonathan arriving on "private charter"
                                  (Jonathan flew in with Clint)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Follow Up - Queensland Floods

Hello Fellow Jessaholics,

I must apologise for not visiting here for such a long time. No real excuses but the fact that quality time has been a commodity in very short supply due to the business taking up most of my waking hours. Anyway, its really good to be back and I thought I would share with all of you some very confronting, yet life changing experiences I had on a little trip I made up to Queensland.

Just watching the pain and suffering being experienced by my fellow Aussie's got the better of me so I started making enquiries with a number of organisations including local councils and government departments in an attempt to get to flood affected families directly. I did not have much success but kept on trying anyway.

One day, I happened to be watching A Current Affair on Channel 9 (a program I very rarely watch) and there was a segment on a small FM radio station that had set up a website to connect flood victims who either did not have any insurance or were done in by their insurance carriers to individuals or organisations who could help them directly.

I immediately wrote them an email and received a response within 24 hours. Long story short, Juice FM on the Gold Coast connected me directly with four families who were completely devastated by the floods and either had no insurance or were not being paid out.

I cashed in some frequent flyer miles and headed up to Queensland in March and had the honour and privilege of meeting all four families. Two of these families were very young and just starting out in life. The third was from Grantham which was "ground zero" (worst affected). The fourth was a lady who had lost her husband only nine months ago and now this.

I took each one of them to the local Good Guys, Retravision etc and purchased for them things like cooktops, rangehoods, ovens, split aircon units, fridges, dryers, lawnmowers etc. Anything that was needed immediately by these families. I could not begin to tell you how this touched my heart. All these families were initially reluctant to impose on me but I insisted. It was a big expense but I just had to do it. Money never really meant too much to me anyway. At this stage of my life, its about fulfillment.

I have attached some pictures of Grantham just to give you an idea of just how terrible the floods were there. Houses were pulled off their foundation slabs and transported up to 300 metres away. Look closely at the pictures - the brown spots are where the houses were originally.

I had a tough time choking back the tears and when I saw a particular home where a young mother was fleeing the rising waters with her infant and while tripping on a log lost her grip on her baby..........I can't say any more. This was in the news.

I was initially hesitant in sharing this with you but I thought I would simply because there is a much larger picture - people in this world suffering to no fault of their own. We need to be grateful for what we have.

Love to All