Submitted by Pearl Findlay-James, EGRFC Chair and President of Bairnsdale Sunrise Rotary
As Chairperson of the East Gippsland Rotary Fire Aid Committee, I must acknowledge the work of the whole committee working as a team, each with a specific skill set, we have achieved an amazing amount of work over a very short time frame.  I am very proud to lead this team of dedicated Rotarians.
The Rotary family of District 9820, 9800, 9810 and all other districts within Victoria and beyond have also assisted, with financial donations along with ‘man/woman power’ in the form of working bees, they have certainly contributed to the recovery program.
Friday, March 13th, was an exciting day for us all. Kaelene De Laney of Sarsfield accepted delivery of the first shipping container donated by District 9800. Kaelene lost her home and all shedding on her property in Sarsfield, where Kaelene’s Mum also lived with her. Kaelene presently lives in rented accommodation several Km’s away. 
The arrival of the shipping container allows Kaelene to leave all her donated work tools and personal items in a securely locked up container ‘on-site’, while she commences her recovery journey.
Money Vouchers
The Rotary money vouchers have proved to be a great success, with over $100,000 being distributed to fire affected survivors so far. The vouchers are providing a source of income for the retailers locally during this very unstable time economically. Committee members visit the family or individual referred to us, carry along a Rotary fruit cake to share over a cuppa (so there are a couple of expanding waistlines !!). There are also follow up visits to present the vouchers, clothing or other needs, as determined during the initial visit.
Hay & Fodder Distribution
Hay & fodder distributions are continuing in preparation for the onset of winter and we are eagerly awaiting the delivery of a container load of ‘star pickets’, which will assist our hobby farmers with their challenges of fence lines being replaced.
GIVIT - An Amazing Partner Organisation
DG Adrian Froggatt, PDG Janne Speirs & I attended an information day for Registered Charities hosted by East Gippsland Shire. While attending, we were introduced to a young Lady from GIVIT. Who/what is GIVIT you ask? We asked the same question. GIVIT partner with the ACT, NSW, QLD & VIC State Governments with Disaster & Emergency Recovery Service.
Rotary International is a registered charity, which allowed me to register on their website for assistance.
I cannot sing their praises highly enough, we had a few items on a ‘wish list’. I uploaded to their website and within days our wishes were granted. A big shout out, ’Thank you Lisa & team’
Community Barbecues
Another community BBQ day was held, this time at Cann River. The weather was a little cooler, however, the Melbourne Army Band kept everyone moving and swinging their hips to a vast selection of music, in fact they did a ‘Pied Piper’, walking through the Main street of Cann River, returning with interested followers to see what was happening in town!
We met several travellers from the caravan park, who also enjoyed the activities, how can you not like free fairy floss, popcorn and a BBQ lunch expertly prepared by Orbost & Bairnsdale Rotary Club members.
This is a very brief snapshot of the activities undertaken over the past couple of months. King Gee work clothing and donated furniture continues to be distributed, as we move into uncharted waters with the current health crisis.
We will continue to assist our fire survivors, while keeping ourselves safe.
We demonstrated this by holding our first ZOOM committee meeting on Thursday 26th March & we all survived!!
We may have slipped from the headlines, however, we are still in the thoughts of many by continuing to receive donations. We expect to take delivery of a few refurbished caravans shortly. These will be new homes for those currently living in tents on their properties.
Thank you all, for assisting us to assist those in desperate need here in East Gippsland.
Please note photos were taken prior to the COVID-19 Coronavirus restrictions.