How a community rallied to give a man a second chance
STARTING with a Facebook post, Breanna Rix highlighted the true power of the Whitsunday community while also shining a light on the reality of homelessness in the region.
Miss Rix shared to Facebook last Monday, explaining how for weeks she'd noticed a man spending time around the Whitsunday Plaza, either in his car or nearby.
She decided to ask him the tough question of "Hey mate, are you sleeping in your car?”.
She said once hearing the answer was "yes”, Miss Rix took to social media to see what could be done to help Dave, who preferred not to publish his surname, in regaining his independence after experiencing a period of homelessness.
The post amounted to a wave of support from people in the Whitsunday community.
After more than 170 likes and almost 200 comments, in less than 24 hours Dave had a place to stay, employment, and countless helping hands ready to assist him in moving forward.
Witnessing the outburst of people willing to make a difference, Miss Rix said through the power of numbers, positive change could be made.
"Today we've helped one person, tomorrow we can help another,” Miss Rix
"I wasn't interested in his past - he didn't need to justify it to me. I was only interested in moving him forward.
"When I made the post I was hoping our community would come together because there have been so many times where we have shown how strong we are and how many beautiful hearts we do have here.”
Miss Rix said Dave received offers of short and long term accommodation, help with his car, showers, laundry, hair cuts and food.
Mantra Club Croc donated a night of accommodation last week before Dave was offered a place to stay for a few months by Jodie and Samantha Davis who have a vacant property, waiting to be renovated.
"At the end of the day, Dave's situation could be our situation or it could be someone we love,” Mrs Davis said.
"Jodie is really big on giving and sharing what we have, and it also feels good to give.”
"The flip side of it all is that there is someone in that property keeping an eye on it, so Dave is helping us out as well.”
Karter Truck Hire co-owner Kirsty Dowd jumped on board by offering Dave a job to help load and drive their trucks when needed.
"When you get a team of people together, then real change can happen,” Miss Rix said.
She said Dave did seek emergency relief in the area but not being a long-term Whitsunday resident left him unaware of all the available services.
During their initial conversation, Miss Rix directed Dave to possible avenues of assistance but before any action was taken, her Facebook post already attracted offers of support.
Whitsunday Counselling and Support chief executive officer Wayne Horwood said the issue of homelessness did go under-recognised in the Whitsundays and was something the community needed to begin addressing more.
There is funding for emergency relief in the region, but limited funding for emergency accommodation, resulting in difficulties in providing shelter for those who do not qualify for more long-term housing under the services of Whitsunday Housing Company.