The Canberra spirit shone like never before this year throughout the choking smoke, ferocious fires and isolating pandemic. Whether it was digging deep into pockets and cupboards for donations, helping vulnerable seniors to shop or making care packages for stressed frontline workers, it’s these simple acts of kindness that we’ll remember.
As the largest not-for-profit community organisation in Canberra, Communities@Work was in the middle of it all. With sleeves rolled up, its staff worked hard – often in collaboration with other community organisations, government agencies and local businesses to meet our community’s rapidly changing needs.
Communities@Work CEO Lee Maiden said 2020 was a huge year.
“It brought so many ups and downs, but ultimately it showed us what we are capable of when we pull together as a community,” Lee said.
Lee says it is almost impossible to pick a shortlist of the best things Communities@Work have done in 2020, but here are some of her favourites:
- We gave food and clothing to people fleeing the bushfires, sent food and drinks to tired firefighters, and helped run Canberra’s bushfire emergency and recovery centres.
- We helped the children at our school holiday programs to organise fundraisers to help injured koalas and write touching thank-you letters to our firefighter heroes.
- We connected children from our Illoura Childcare and Education Centre with our senior clients, leading to heartwarming bonds and the ‘best hugs’ at their monthly visits.
- We threw the ‘best-ever’ birthday party for the children at our centres who were so disappointed at missing out on their own birthdays due to COVID-19 – bringing parents to tears.
- We helped families by freezing our childcare fees and keeping all our early education and care services open so those who couldn’t work from home could continue accessing childcare.
- We spoilt hardworking and stressed essential workers by presenting them with care packages, full of handmade pamper gifts and notes, lovingly made by the children at our centres.
- We connected and inspired Canberrans in self-isolation by encouraging them to busily quilt, bead, craft and paint for our online Creative Craft Challenge and share their creations.
- We taught children at our early education and care centres how to establish a bushfoods garden and cook meals using the Indigenous produce they harvested.
- We proudly launched our new Reconciliation Action Plan, demonstrating our continued commitment to supporting Australia’s First Nations peoples and their culture.
- We gave out a tonne of essential food hampers to people facing hardship, in partnership with the Canberra Relief Network, and recently made our community food pantries bigger and better.
- We worked with the ACT Government on a pilot to provide 15 hours a week of free early education and care for three-year-old children to support vulnerable families.
- We discovered that one of the best ways to get our Galilee School students to enjoy reading was to bring in dogs for them to read to and cuddle (thanks Rainbow Paws!)
- We proudly watched our disability clients share their barista skills and launch their Small Talk Café business for our centre visitors.
- We won the Large Employer of the Year at the 2020 ACT Training Awards for the second year in a row for our high-quality professional development programs.
- We launched our Youth Advisory Board, made up of passionate young staff members, to capture their insights and vision about youth issues affecting our organisation and the community.
- We organised shopping trips to ensure our vulnerable seniors and disability clients had access to the essential items they needed during the mad rush for toilet paper, flour and pasta.
- We were chuffed when the ACT Brumbies named us their Major Charity Partner and loved having the players mentor our Galilee School students, kick the ball around with our disability clients, and lend a hand at our community food pantry.
- We were so proud of our staff that we gave them all tokens of our thanks and gratitude for selflessly giving everything they had to support our community throughout 2020.
- We sent all our amazing volunteers small gifts of appreciation and video messages from across the organisation to thank them for lending a hand in a very challenging year.
- We made many new friends through the generous businesses and community organisations who supported our Christmas Appeal, so people in need didn’t miss out at Christmas.
“Thanks, Canberra, for all your invaluable support. It’s been a privilege working with you!”
For more highlights, check out the Communities@Work’s 2019/20 annual report, or visit Communites@Work to learn about Canberra’s largest not-for-profit community organisation.