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Table for 200? Red Cross is catering

Three decades’ worth: Glenda Arbuthnot admires her medallion recognising 30 years’ service with Red Cross.

TWO hundred people can be fed at the drop of a hat, thanks to foresight by volunteers at Tarwin Lower.
Members of the Red Cross unit have emergency catering boxes filled with plates, water containers and other supplies to feed masses of people left stricken in the event of a disaster.
There is even dishwashing liquid for the clean up afterwards.
The team is ready to feed emergency victims and the fire fighters, State Emergency Service personnel, police and paramedics who rush to their aid.
The unit’s Glenda Arbuthnot has experienced catering in the most unlikely of places.
“At the truck roll-over we had at Fish Creek a while ago, we had a gas stove sitting on the road to boil up hot water for cuppas.”
Glenda received her 30-year service medallion at the Tarwin Lower unit’s Christmas lunch last month.
She has held every position of office at some point and is now deputy catering officer for the region from Phillip Island to Welshpool: working with catering chief Marilyn Mackie to co-ordinate food and drinks when those who most need it either do not have the time to help themselves or the ability to do so.
The pair is on call around the clock.
Floods in northern Victoria and Koo Wee Rup in 2011 hindered victims’ access to supplies but Red Cross volunteers from South Gippsland were there.
During several one week stints to the state’s north, Glenda worked at a relief centre and supported flood victims.
“I tried to find them help with the services and to be someone friendly to talk to, to just give them support and comfort. They had no water and we carried crates of water to their houses.”
Glenda’s emergency services work is separate to the activities of the unit, and covers a range of duties, from outreach and food handling, to registering victims and attending to isolated incidents.
She has catered at major bushfires, registered children airlifted from Wilsons Promontory after flooding last year, catered for divers searching for pest seastars at Inverloch, and fed police and rescuers attending to a plane crash at Venus Bay in 2007.
Her dedication to the Red Cross was recognised with a service award at Government House last year.
“I have got a lot of pleasure out of it and a lot of friendship. You give a lot but you get a lot back.  Then I have got the support of (husband) John and my family too.
“But it’s demanding sometimes.”
The Tarwin Lower unit has 35 members on the books and enjoys meetings on the first Tuesdays of the month at the Tarwin Lower Community Centre, usually entailing a guest speaker, an activity and socialising.
The unit’s once popular Telecross service has ceased but for many years, members would phone elderly people around the Tarwin Lower district daily to ensure they were okay.
They still knit teddy bears for children in hospitals, and those who are victims of fire or floods.
“The late Nancy McMicking was in the unit when I first started. There were only five members and her words were that it was most important that we keep the unit going, otherwise it would close and it would never get going again.”
The unit was instrumental in establishing a Junior Red Cross unit at Tarwin Lower Primary School from 1991 to 1997, and raising money for a water well in Ethiopia. Once constructed, the well bore the words “Tarwin Lower Primary School”.
“It’s not just me. We have to work together and we are lucky in our group that we can call work together.”

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=2929

Posted by on Feb 15 2012. Filed under Community, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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