Chrissy busy taking part       in community life

August 9th, 2020Chrissy busy taking part in community life

LENDING a hand comes very naturally to Chrissy Austin. After spending the past 16 years working in the community sector, as well as having a background in working with refugee and multicultural communities, she’s now the chair of the Creswick Neighbourhood Centre board.

“I’ve been the chair for one month…but I was vice-chair before that, I’ve been doing stuff on the board for about a year previously, I’m the newest board member,” Chrissy explained.
Chrissy moved to Creswick only two-and-a-half years ago with husband Chris and their three children, after about 20 years living in Melbourne, but before that she had grown up very much participating in the country community she lived in as a child. Now? She’s participating in her local community, as is her way.
“I’ve always, through my work and just personally as well, done lots of things in the community – we all really do need to lend a hand and that can be in all sorts of ways.
“It’s meeting what the community need is, and what your interests and circumstances allow, and often people think that they need to give a lot to be significant, and it’s not always the case. At the Neighbourhood Centre, we’re always looking for new volunteers, so I urge people to give it a try.
“Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to find the right thing, another great thing is the people that you meet because you cross paths with people and come to know them on a deeper level, people who you otherwise might not come across.”
Chrissy certainly is a people-person, but instead of being too socially isolated during the restrictions of the global pandemic, she has used her extra time for good.
“Well, we have a ‘Share and Swap It’ cupboard on the back porch of the Neighbourhood Centre, it’s one of the few things that’s actually still in operation at the moment, because people can come and go and it’s not staffed. It’s where people can drop off food and pantry items, a community-led food share.
“I pick up bread and vegetables, and other things that are getting close to the end of their shelf life from the Ballarat ‘Second Bite’ program, which is designed to stop so much food ending up in the bin. We put it in the cupboard and people can come and get it, and I’ve also been taking it to some of the residents at the caravan park.
“I’m a fairly social people-person, so working from home every day can be difficult at times, so having some hands-on helpful things in the community can keep me going, to be honest. It’s really great to be able to help people in a really hands-on practical way.
“Because I’m in Creswick and not having to go into Ballarat every day, I have a bit more time to do that, it’s been good for me personally and also just with the kids too, they’re not in care long hours when you get a little bit of time back in your life.”
Chrissy has also been a regular at the fortnightly Creswick Market, helping with the centre’s information stall there and also, more recently, helping take names and contact details of people attending and also welcoming visitors.
“We volunteer at the market, doing bits and pieces, we support our manager Tim. The market is running fortnightly to allow locals to have somewhere to sell their produce, and it’s an open-air market and we remind people about social distancing when we welcome them.
“It’s the hands-on aspect of it, I love it.”

Words: Kate Taylor | Image: Contributed

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