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Tassie Salvos deliver during isolation

Tassie Salvos deliver during isolation

Tassie Salvos deliver during isolation

10 June 2020

Rodney Stubbs and Jo Deverell-Smith from Doorways in Burnie, north-west Tasmania, deliver groceries and care packs to people in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Ruth Carr*

Karen Thompson was so appreciative of the Salvos supporting her when she was in isolation that she left a thank-you note on her car.

When the north-west of Tasmania unexpectedly became a coronavirus hotspot earlier this year, 5000 residents were quarantined to contain the virus. The local Salvos rallied to support those most impacted by isolation, and for Karen Thompson, they were a lifeline.

Karen needed to self-isolate at her rural property after her daughter-in-law, a nurse, was diagnosed with COVID-19. With serious comorbidity issues and a best friend going through chemotherapy, the last thing she wanted to do was take any unnecessary risks. Wanting to adhere to government advice, Karen planned to shop online and have everything she needed delivered. That was until both the local supermarket and chemist informed her that she lived too far out of town for deliveries.

“I began feeling really vulnerable – I was stuck,” she said. “I’ve never been in a position before where I couldn’t get what I needed, especially essential medication.”

Desperate, Karen reached out to Tasmanian Public Heath, which then referred her to The Salvation Army in Burnie. That same day, Jo Deverell-Smith and Rodney Stubbs, from the Doorways emergency relief program, responded to Karen with good news – they were immediately able to support her with groceries and her much-needed medication not just once, but several times over the following weeks.

“I felt very embarrassed asking for help. But Jo and Rodney made me feel so comfortable. They made me feel it was okay,” Karen said.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 at a local nursing facility, calls for help increased significantly throughout Tasmania’s north-west. At times, Rodney would be driving hundreds of kilometres a day to assist the vulnerable and people in need.

“We just think, wow, look what little Burnie does, look at what the North West Coast does when there were so many people [needing help]. We are just so proud of ourselves,” Jo said. “We’re still on-call for people. We haven’t put the brakes on yet. We know there are going to be even more people in need in the coming months.”

With her daughter-in-law now recovered and restrictions easing, Karen is determined to pay forward the generosity. 

“I can’t speak highly enough of Jo and Rodney. They were brilliant. I put a sign on the back of my car that said, ‘Thank God for the Salvos’. Now I tell everyone, if they can, to donate.”

* Ruth Carr is Content Manager in The Salvation Army Brand and Marketing team.

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