Mid West mums shine amid cyclone Seroja clean up
Between them, three Geraldton women have spent almost four decades getting people out of binds, keeping the community safe and generally kicking butt — with their contribution more poignant than ever since cyclone Seroja.
As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve been busy raising a gaggle of kiddos.
“I think she’s doing a great job, she’s helping so many people. Out in the community. People are struggling after the cyclone and she’s been such a great help,” Michael Talbot, 14, said of his SES volunteer mum Roni Talbot.
Ms Talbot, and friends Gabby Bourke and Tia Juantika, volunteer in emergency service.
Ms Bourke gives up her time for SES, Ms Juantika volunteers for Marine Rescue — operating the radio in her second language — and Ms Talbot gives her time to both.
It’s been a busy month for the dynamic trio, with cyclone Seroja kicking their lives into next gear.
“We volunteered the whole week and then into the next week,” Ms Bourke said, referring to herself and Ms Talbot, who both ditched their other jobs to volunteer full-time.
Ms Talbot added: “It cost me blood sweat and tears ... but just being able to be there and have the knowledge and the skills to put into action when needed is rewarding.”
Ms Juantika, a single mother to three young boys, already had a lot on her plate. But, she still managed to find ways to help out.
She offered her spare rooms to Western Power workers and helped ensure boats were back on the mainland the day before the cyclone hit. “When all the list was safe and back to the shore, it made me feel good,” she said.
All three women agreed volunteering taught them a lot about parenting, and vice versa, with both roles as unpredictable as each other.
“It teaches you that no matter how much you learn something, when it happens, it doesn’t happen how it happens in a book. And, that’s parenting,” Ms Talbot said.
“(Volunteering) has taught me to keep an eye on the kids. We’ve had so many missing kids,” said Ms Bourke, who has adult children and cares for her grandson. She said having kids gave her greater empathy for parents in that position.
Each of them agreed their lifestyles were rewarding, with the communities formed around their volunteering like an “extended family”.
“When you get all the things you love and put them all together, it’s a case of just finding time for all of them,” Ms Bourke said.
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