It is often said that the measure of a great community lies in the compassion of its people. If this is true, then Canberra is truly blessed with greatness.
For the past eight years, Belconnen Community Service (BCS) has run a unique community initiative called the 10/10 Project. Birthed from the realisation that tackling overgrown gardens is an unnecessary stress for many community members, BCS gathered 10 teams of volunteers in 2012 to do basic maintenance work on 10 selected yards.
The emotional and community gains were so tremendous that BCS made it an annual event. And this year saw its highest attendance ever, with close to 100 volunteers taking time from their busy schedules to participate.
Heading the project was program manager of BCS My Links Graham McKerchar who, with the help of his team, has gathered some of the most awe-inspiring and moving stories from families who needed their help.
Reading from one of the first emails he sent to the BCS team about the 10/10 Project, Graham said that he has been “moved, in awe, almost got lost” and even met a goose during one of their inspections. No geese were to be seen this year, but that did not dampen the spirit of the volunteers who came away from the event with equally memorable experiences.
“That enthusiasm hasn’t waned over the past eight years,” BCS CEO Mandy Green said. “This project has gone on to mean so much to those who receive the help but even more to those who volunteer on the day.”
Volunteers from BCS, Housing ACT, Westpac, and the general community gathered at St James’ Anglican Church in Holt on Friday morning (18 October) for breakfast and preparations before heading out to their designated yards. Working throughout the day, they found themselves mowing, whipper snipping, digging, weeding, raking and filling up skip after skip in an effort to restore the gardens to their former glory.
Among the volunteers were Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry, and MLAs Tara Cheyne and Elizabeth Kikkert, who had no qualms about picking up a whipper snipper or getting knee-deep in twigs and shrubs to help their team with the project. School children from UC High School Kaleen, Kingsford Smith and Melba Copland Secondary also volunteered, many of whom were so inspired that they have already committed to attending next year’s event.
And in true community spirit, Alliance Leasing even donated their mighty Triton to help coordinate moving equipment between the properties.
Hours of hard work culminated in some truly incredible transformations. Sweat was shed, but so were tears when the owners looked back at what used to be their overgrown gardens to see perfectly maintainable green spaces.
So far, BCS has completed yard and garden clean-ups at 83 homes across Belconnen, Ainslie and Gungahlin through the 10/10 Project. In that time, 430 volunteers have dedicated over 3000 volunteer hours over the past eight years, and well over 300 bacon and egg rolls have been distributed for breakfast!
Memories have been made, friendships forged, and a community has been strengthened as part of the 10/10 Project. All thanks to the compassionate deeds of Canberra’s truly selfless community members.
BCS would like to thank all the volunteers and sponsors who attended and contributed to this year’s 10/10 Project, Alliance Leasing for donating the Triton, Westpac for sponsoring the Trivia night, and the BCS working group for the hours of hard work put into organising the event.
Next year, BCS is taking 10/10 to even greater heights with 20/20 in 2020. We want to double the number of properties we work on and help more people through this project than we ever have before.
But we can’t do it alone. We need your help to make this a reality.
Both forms can be returned by email to email@example.com or by post to BCS 10/10 Project PO Box 679 Belconnen ACT 2616.
Sponsorship goes a long way for the 10/10 Project. Please contact the project manager, Graham McKerchar on 6278 8126 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can help.