We’ve all felt the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And while it has been a challenging 18 months for many, it is important to reflect on the positives.
These trying times have also brought out the best in people. People like Jodie.
Jodie has volunteered at our NoBucks community meals service in Hobart for over 2 years.
“A friend suggested I go to NoBucks for a meal one day. I was home alone throughout the day and feeling a bit lonely,” says Jodie.
“One of the volunteers suggested I should look into volunteering, so I did.”
Jodie started helping in the kitchen twice a week.
When the pandemic hit, Jodie gave even more. She volunteered most weekdays during the height of COVID-19 restrictions in Tasmania to “make sure people were still being fed” during the difficult time.
But like so many of the people Jodie serves at NoBucks, she also endures daily struggles. Life hasn’t been easy for the 51-year-old.
Jodie lives with an acquired brain injury that causes severe and ongoing short-term memory loss. Jodie is often unable to remember what she heard, saw or did only minutes earlier.
As a baby, Jodie was adopted out by her birth mother.
She spent nearly 11 years with her adopted family before the relationship broke down and she was placed into foster care when she was 12-years-old.
“My foster family were lovely. I was the only foster child, so my foster parents showered me with attention,” says Jodie
It was this attention that one day took a sinister turn for Jodie.
When one of the foster family’s children took exception to the attention Jodie was receiving, he made a near-fatal decision to inject Jodie with insulin, causing severe hypoglycemia.
The overdose left Jodie in a coma for 6 months.
When Jodie awoke from the coma, she says “it was like my memory had been erased.”
Jodie spent over a year in hospital learning to walk, talk, eat and go to the toilet again.
“I don’t remember a lot about my recovery. But I know it was long and difficult.
“And I remember getting frustrated sometimes. It’s probably a good thing I don’t remember much.”
Jodie returned to live with her adopted family after she was discharged from hospital.
Unable to work and on a disability pension, Jodie started volunteering her time and joined the local Scout group.
It was there that she met her husband Randall.
“He has been a great strength to me over the years,” says Jodie.
“I know it can be hard on him at times, supporting the kids and me.”
With 3 children and a mortgage to pay, money is tight sometimes.
When Randall received a small pay rise last year, Jodie’s disability pension was cut off and the family’s finances became more strained.
“We used my disability pension to put money away for Christmas and birthday presents for the kids and to buy them clothes during the year,” says Jodie.
“With 3 growing children to feed and a mortgage to pay, we don’t have a lot of money left over after we buy the essentials.”
Leading up to Christmas last year, Jodie was heartbroken when the children asked for bikes.
“We just couldn’t afford it. I’d bought clothes for each of the kids as their present.
“We’ve always made sure the kids have food on the table and clean clothes on their backs.”
To help Jodie, who has given so much to her community through her volunteering and Scouting roles, the Uniting team in Hobart stepped in to buy bikes for the children.
“It meant the world to us,” says Jodie.
“It was so kind. And it’s been a big help. Rohan rides his bike to college each day and Cailean will do the same when he goes to college next year.”
The team at NoBucks are now looking to hire Jodie as a supported employee.
“It’s good to feel valued and to be doing something I really enjoy,” says Jodie.
“I just hope I’m making a difference for people.
“My life hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve managed. And I know there are people out there worse off than I am.”
You can support people across Victoria and Tasmania doing it tough this Christmas.