This year has been tough for many people, particularly on the NSW South Coast, but among the gloom there has still been plenty to celebrate.
New babies, new homes, graduations, engagements and weddings – things we would usually shout from the rooftops – have been quietly going on while the nation’s collective consciousness has been focused on national disasters and a global pandemic.
It’s a situation that has left many of us feeling anxious, flat and fearful.
However, a Batemans Bay business wanted to turn all that around and has launched a new campaign to bring all those good things back into sharp focus.
Village Centre and Bridge Plaza centre manager Glenn Atkins has launched Share the Good, a collection of positive stories from the local community.
Mr Atkins said a simple shout out on Facebook brought in more than 100 stories of joy and positivity.
“We understand 2020 has been difficult,” he said. “Our goal was to change the narrative a little bit; to recognise and not minimise the struggles, but to reaffirm the positive. We wanted to hear people’s stories.”
These stories range from incredible highs to everyday joy, and capture a snapshot of a resilient community living life while also dealing with bushfires and COVID-19.
The short stories were read by Mr Atkins, summarised into a few words, captured on canvas by calligrapher Allira Middlebrook and then hung on the walls of an empty shop next to Aldi in the Village Centre.
“I read them all,” said Mr Atkins. “It was an emotional and overwhelming day.”
Among the stories in the Share the Good room are those from locals Brooke Hodgetts, Sheena Carrington, Renee Mangles and Melissa Franzen.
Ms Hodgetts was flown out of the area by ambulance during the bushfires before delivering two beautiful twin boys.
After studying for five years, Ms Carrington was able to get her dream job during COVID-19 restrictions. She now helps other people as a disability support worker in the Eurobodalla.
For Ms Mangles, the bushfires and COVID-19 restricted the delivery of her new mobility scooter. After lockdown restrictions were lifted, she finally got her scooter and has a new sense of independence.
READ ALSO: Old dogs, children and watermelon wine
After the bushfires, Ms Franzen was one of many people who were left without electricity after power poles burnt down. In an amazing act of kindness, an off-the-grid neighbour shared power not only with Melissa’s home but also with another neighbour for two months until the power poles were restored.
“It has been very heartwarming to read the stories from our local community and how much good there is in the area,” said Mr Atkins.
“It can be as simple as people sharing jokes about toilet rolls with their neighbours. We look forward to being able to share the community’s stories in our Share The Good room. We need to change the narrative around what 2020 is.”