Pandemic or no pandemic, Steptoe (aka Phil Hartcher) and his community team (CT) from Rotary Wyndham continue to assist people in the community who are in urgent need. 

“Steptoe” and his team certainly have acquired the runs on the board over the past twelve months. Needy families have received more than $145,000 worth of food and toiletries with a modest cost of $2,000 provided by Wyndham Rotary.

When Phil joined Wyndham Rotary on his retirement he he saw an opportunity to build effective relationships with other community organisations and “put smiles on the faces of children”. Why so important? Phil remembers a childhood when, as a ten-year-old, his mother died, and he took on the cooking and cleaning duties for his family. Necessary at the time but not what he wanted for children today! A career in the military and business his experience, saw Phil develop excellent team and logistical skills and, as with many in Rotary, these skills and passion for a cause resulted in positive outcomes for others.

Phil and his team have worked with Uniting Wyndham to provide Backpack beds to the homeless in Wyndham.  Like Steptoe from the popular TV show of the 60s, Steptoe and Son, he subscribes to the notion of reuse, recycle, and repurpose. Jackets, blankets, and cans of food were sourced and sent to the Salvation Army. Grocery, toiletry, and care packs were to Western Welcome Wagon so that some of the four hundred refugee and migrant families in the local community received much needed supplies. Collaboration with Pinchapoo and JET Australia enabled a speedy response to a plea for help.

Over a short period of time the Community Team have shone a light on the power of collaboration with community groups such as Ballarat Uniting Care, McKillop Family Services, RecLink, and the Penrose Promenade Community Centre providing opportunities for Wyndham Rotary to excel in collaborating for worthwhile local causes.

As a result of recent events in Afghanistan five hundred people with refugee status have arrived in Wyndham with an urgent need for warm clothing, blankets, food supplies and toiletries. Almost overnight the Community Team have provided one hundred and eighty boxes of groceries containing, rice, lentils, dried beans, dahl, three hundred family size toiletry packs and two hundred basic toiletry packs, twenty-one boxes of polo shirts and jackets, and clothes from the Fit for Use Store in Werribee. The Wyndham Park Community Centre was able to deliver these good immediately. Of course, this is not the end of the story, rather the beginning of another opportunity for Phil and the team to live out the mantra of “identify a need and respond to the need”.

So now Wyndham Rotary looks forward helping to collecting donations of baby formula and nappies. Maybe some friends will crochet some colourful blankets. Satya, from JET will certainly make grocery packs available. In time we will work out how we can take on a mentoring role with new families.

Thanks to the passion and dedication of the Wyndham Rotary Community Team we are making a difference to the lives of others. We are a group of people of action who care and “collaborate for a cause”.