Faces of the Red Shield Appeal: Jack Drendel
Faces of the Red Shield Appeal: Jack Drendel
16 May 2019
The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal has a national target of $79 million. That money enables Salvos across Australia to help thousands of individuals and families. This month, others.org.au is profiling some of those people.
Jack Drendel will never forget 30 March 2017, the day when floodwaters inundated his Brisbane home. With water inching higher and higher, Jack and his partner were forced onto their roof for five hours until they were rescued.
“I had to wake the neighbours and got them up onto our roof as well because the water was coming up so fast,” he said. “The neighbours across the road were screaming because it was up over the gutters of their house.”
Jack and his partner lost everything in the flood, the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie that had wreaked havoc down the Queensland coast. Their home, cars, and small business were all destroyed. Not all of it was insured, and some items that were insured weren’t covered.
“We were pretty much in dire straits,” Jack said. “I had lots of business debt as well as personal debt, a car loan and machinery repayments to make, credit cards … we just had no idea what we were going to do because we couldn’t service the loans, we couldn’t survive, we couldn’t do anything.”
Jack had been financially secure his whole life, having been manager and director of several businesses. Now, he had nothing and admitted he was in a state of disbelief.
After receiving some initial disaster assistance, Jack says his case got “lost in the system” and more than six months went by without any support. He and his partner were staying with friends and family, but that was wearing thin and Jack’s outlook became bleaker.
“It crippled me. I couldn’t get out of the house for weeks. I couldn’t do anything. I was always tired. My partner and I were having arguments over crazy little things. It just about broke me,” he says.
“We couldn’t eat properly. We had cut down to two meals a day. We couldn’t buy food or anything at that stage.”
By September last year, Jack admits he didn’t have much hope and was having suicidal thoughts.
It was then that The Salvation Army came into Jack’s life. His DOCCS caseworker introduced him to The Salvation Army Moneycare financial counsellor Lisa Simpson, who took control of Jack’s financial situation.
“If I hadn’t met Lisa and the other lady at that time … I was that close I think. Another week or two and that would have been it.”
Lisa immediately supplied Jack and his partner with a supermarket voucher and helped Jack to get his entire financial situation down on paper so that they could make a plan to move forward.
“I was a little bit scared actually when it was all put on paper,” Jacks says. “She assured me that we’d just do one thing at a time and that’s basically what we did. We just started to have a little win here, or there, and we worked our way right through.”
Lisa also accompanied Jack to the local government housing office where he had been trying to secure a home. “It made a big difference to have someone there that could speak the same sort of language that they’re used to; it made a big difference,” he says.
Lisa then negotiated with his telecommunications company (who he had been trying to speak to without success) and his bank to get his hardship provision extended.
“I had no idea that the Salvos could actually do [all of this] to help the situation,” he says. “To give us the hope and the feeling that there was someone there for us was enormous. I wasn’t aware of the time that it takes to get back on your feet. It is overwhelming. It’s taken so long to get going again.”
The Salvation Army was also able to assist Jack and his partner with ongoing supermarket vouchers, fuel vouchers, a voucher for a new phone (theirs was damaged in the floods) and even Christmas presents for Jack’s son when the festive season rolled around.
“We just feel so humbled and blessed – it’s like we were given a guardian angel.”
Jack now has hope. He is working with his doctor and psychologist and is ready to start applying for jobs again. He says he can’t put into words how grateful he is to Lisa from Moneycare and to The Salvation Army as a whole for its assistance in his time of need.
“To have someone there for you, it’s the most important piece of the puzzle,” he says
To volunteer for the Red Shield Appeal on the weekend of 25-26 May, or to make a donation, head to salvationarmy.org.au.