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Rebuilding hope one shed at a time

Two years on from Tabulam fire, those affected still need a helping hand

by Susanna Freymark, 02/13/2021, 2 min read

THE Shed of Hope office is more a storage room than an office.

Shelves on all four walls are filled with blankets and sheets ready to be given to those who were impacted by fire in 2019.

Two years ago, on February 12, Natasha Spiller accidentally started a fire that destroyed 18 homes in the Tabulam area. The fire spread and other fires at Drake and Ewingar blazed, more than once, and marked the start of a horror year of fire.

The Shed of Hope charity set up by Greg Dollin in the weeks after the February fire had a simple goal.

To provide somewhere — even if it was only a small shed — where people who had lost everything could begin to recover.

Dan Jones points to the storage area at the Shed of Hope.

With 41 sheds already built in Tabulam, Rappville and Drake, they have a further 52 on their list to construct, including some at Nymboida.

Volunteer Dan Jones said they had sourced 20 caravans for people needing a home.

In their new location on the Bruxner Highway at Tabulam, their dream of providing sheds has turned into much more.

The headquarters has a food pantry, a mobile tool library and plenty of storage for furniture and building materials.

And it’s a place to gather.

“People can talk to each other here, we’ve moved into mental health,” Greg said.

The charity has suffered setbacks with a car and an excavator stolen.

Yet the volunteers are upbeat and keen to do more.

Lyn Groen who runs the food pantry three days a week, knows what it is like to start again.

Volunteer Colin Wickett at the Shed of Hope Food Pantry in Tabulam.

With husband Steve Groen, she moved from Melbourne to Paddy’s Flat and their home was destroyed.

“People come in here crying and say I don’t understand. I tell them, I do. I lost everything,” Lyn said.

Joy Rose from Bentley is 73 and is a regular volunteer and said it made her cry every time she talked about the fires.

In the last financial year, the charity received $310,000, with a generous amount coming from the Mindaroo Foundation.

Shed of Hope is a registered charity affiliated with Greg’s church Living Waters, Kyogle Seventh Day Adventist and Heartlands Church Casino, which is part of Global Care.

They receive no government funding and rely on donations.

What they needed most was more volunteers to help build sheds, Greg said.

The charity is also looking for donations for its mobile tool library.

Contact the Shed of Hope on 0475 401 632.

HELPING HANDS: At the Shed of Hope are Dick Brown, volunteers Steve Groen, Joy Rose, Carmela Walther, Colin Wickett, Dan Jones, charity president Greg Dollin and volunteer Ray Parry. In front are volunteers Lyn Groen and Vicki Dollin. Photo: Susanna Freymark