Kind-hearted Sapphire Coast wraps ‘Sue’ in its warm embrace

The response was fast and overwhelming as the coastal communities of Merimbula, Pambula, Tura and beyond moved to gather up 'Sue', the homeless woman, in their warm embrace.

The Sapphire Coast community has given great solace to homeless woman, 'Sue'.

The Sapphire Coast community has given great solace to homeless woman, 'Sue'.

The response was fast and overwhelming as the coastal communities of Merimbula, Pambula, Tura and beyond moved to gather up 'Sue', the homeless woman, in their warm embrace.

After publishing the story of Sue, the homeless woman in Merimbula, the News Weekly was overwhelmed by telephone calls and offers of help from a caring community, moved and concerned by the plight of Sue who had been reduced to sleeping in her car.

Phone calls came in a continuous stream on Wednesday and Thursday and continued to come in on Friday and up until Monday. Some people admitted that to read of Sue’s situation had brought tears to their eyes such was the level of dismay at Sue’s plight. One woman said: “We can’t let that happen here.” Many callers said their hearts had gone out to Sue as they enjoyed the warmth of cosy beds, they thought of her desperation and discomfort trying to sleep in her car in the chilly night conditions.

They came forward with offers of a bed or a room, and many simply asked: “How can we help?” There were food vouchers, money and even the offer of some work from a café in Eden.

News Weekly editor Liz McCormick said the outpouring of concern expressed by the community was very moving. “It was one of those times when I have felt very proud to be a member of this community, having lived here for 32 years I have to say this was one of its finest moments. We were so overwhelmed by the response it was beyond our capacity to handle it so we were pleased to be able to hand its management to the Social Justice Advocates who do a marvellous job helping those who struggle in our community.“    

The News Weekly is pleased to report that Sue was given some temporary  accommodation for the remainder of last week but as of Monday following a call to the News Weekly, Sue now has extended accommodation until the end of winter.   In a beautiful gesture of kindness and generosity a Pambula Beach couple has opened their home to Sue who is now comfortably housed there.

Sue is overwhelmed and humbled by the care and concern shown to her by the community and can’t thank you all enough. Sue tells her story on Page 2 and in it she says: “I have questioned if I have been deserving of the generosity shown to me and this has made me very emotional, to think that one person can be offered assistance by so very many.

I am truly indebted to the local community, as now I can see the light that did not shine before in the situation I faced.”

On Tuesday afternoon, June 24, and in desperation Sue knocked on the door of the Anglican Church in Merimbula where the rector, David Ruthven was able to assist with motel accommodation for the night. Mr Ruthven then contacted the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast who moved quickly to arrange caravan accommodation for the remainder of the week. Gavin Bell, of the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast said:  “The caravans were donated to the Social Justice Advocates by a Pambula couple who also supplied small electrical items and food. Other costs were covered by the generous support of local businesses and individuals through the Samaritan Shop which operated in Pambula during December 2013 and January this year, raising over $50,000, where 100 per cent will be directed to the needy, directly or indirectly.”

When the News Weekly spoke to Sue on Thursday morning she said: “I am quite overwhelmed. It was lovely to be able to do my washing and to sleep and feel happy and safe.”

Prior to the intervention of the Social Justice Advocates, Sue had been sleeping in her car for the previous three weeks.

Mr Bell said:  “Since Sue has been accommodated, so many generous offers have come through. This includes a $300 food voucher donated by the Pambula Village Vets, for use at the local Pambula Foodworks Supermarket and other shops, the offer of accommodation with a family in Pambula Beach for an extended period, health services, food parcels, and the list goes on. The SJASC have been overwhelmed by the generosity of locals.”

He added that through the generosity of local people the Social Justice Advocates were also able to provide some necessary maintenance for Sue’s car.

The Social Justice Advocates were responsible for the highly successful op-shop at Pambula over the Christmas. This year the aim was to raise money for those in need in the local area, people just like Sue.

Mr Bell is co-ordinating the help for Sue and offers of help have been passed to him.  He said any requests for further information or offers of help for Sue and the many other current and future deserving cases can be directed to him - Gavin Bell on 0411 564 120.