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Building community in Quambone

13 September 2013

Building community in Quambone

Caption: The Quambone general store and post office is the centre of this tiny, Central NSW town.

A development project two hours northwest of Dubbo is re-connecting the community and bringing much-needed hope to its struggling residents.

The tiny village of Quambone was abuzz this August as rural chaplains, a cadet team on rural mission, local supporters and Salvation Army volunteers from Dubbo, Sydney and Newcastle revamped its general store and post office.  

For three days straight, the team worked on the inside of the store – sanding, putting down a new floor, updating the electrical wiring and giving the place a fresh, inviting look.

This community mission was a continuation of ‘Partners in Projects’, established last year by Salvation Army Rural Chaplains Majors Trevor and Maree Strong, with the Rotary Club of Canberra East.

“The Salvos have done the ‘rubber hits the road’ work in helping us get this store really going for the community and surrounds,” said store owners, Kathy and Darius Smith, who moved from Western Australia to Quambone last year.

Reconnecting the community is the focus of the rural chaplains’ work in this area, with a community that has suffered for over a decade with devastating droughts and floods.

“We are kingdom building out here,” says Major Maree Strong. “We’re not building an Army but responding to need, and building a community.”

As part of the three-day mission, the cadet team ran a Pirate theme program and free lunch for the 24 children at the local Quambone Primary School. They also knocked on doors across town, advertising the community worship event and a free barbecue on Sunday morning.

The service, held outside in the grounds of the Quambone Community Hall, attracted locals from the town and surrounding properties who joined the cadets, volunteers and supporters from the Orange and Dubbo corps.

The renovations to the store are only part of the overall community development project, which also includes repairs on local farms and farmhouses, running activities at the Quambone and Marra primary schools, building community groups, and providing emotional support, a listening ear, and friendship, especially to farmers experiencing tough times.

“It’s all about building deep, lasting community in an area that has, and is, still struggling,” says Major Maree Strong.

“We see great, overwhelming need but have few resources. We can’t fix their problems, but we can alleviate their pain through visits, encouragement and support.”

The enthusiasm of the local farmers shows a firm support and appreciation for the rural chaplains’ work.

“It’s wonderful having the rural chaplains out here,” says Susan McLeish from “Thurn” farm, where the Strongs often base their caravan.

“They understand our situation and advocate on our behalf. They are friends who support us, encourage us. We’re isolated, so it’s wonderful that they call in and so consistently care for us.”

Retired farmer Marie Turnbull from “Mayfield” farm near Quambone has enjoyed visits from different Salvos rural chaplains for many years.

“The chaplains were the ones that got us up and supported us as nobody else did through droughts, floods, losing properties, selling everything, and tears,” she says.

“Maree and Trevor have brought us together as a community and given us so much love, support and hope.  We can never thank them enough.”

By Simone Worthing

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