Ronnie and the Community Pantry
By Lee McCarthy
Every community needs a “Ronnie Timperon”, someone who is always there for the community and who puts the needs of others before themselves.
A strong Christian, Ronnie was living and working in Cairns in 2013 for Uniting Care Community when she was made redundant and felt a call to apply for the position of chaplain at Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay.
With relatives living nearby Tewantin, she and her husband Mike decided to move halfway and settled in Tin Can Bay with Ronnie working two days a week at the school in Tin Can Bay and two days at Rainbow Beach.
In 2017, after moving to Gympie and traveling this route twice a day, four days a week, Ronnie took up a chaplaincy position at South Gympie where she remained until 2020.
Ronnie said she still loves Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay and has fond memories of her time there.
“I particularly missed Rainbow Beach School and the community spirit, so I requested a transfer to start over at Rainbow Beach in early 2021 and was welcomed with open arms,” she said.
“I participated in KindyLinQ and got to know a lot of parents and we had a great year reviving the garden and being able to support families.
“We had lots of ideas, including renovating a store using a grant from the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation.”
Unfortunately for the school and for Ronnie, when the warrants came out requiring all staff and volunteers to be vaccinated, she had no choice but to leave.
“I was devastated to leave but our family is strongly against vaccinations so I lost my job. When the manager (Steve Bennett) asked me if I would be there next year I said no, not if I needed to be vaccinated.
“It was really difficult and I didn’t want to go there. They had a final assembly for the year where Steve arranged for a beautiful bouquet of flowers to be presented to me and I was truly overwhelmed. I cried because it was my dream job.
While chatting with then-School P&C president Jed Elmer and his wife Tyla about what 2022 would look like with the mandates, the conversation turned to offering alternative activities for families. who were considering homeschooling and an opportunity to give those parents a break.
“I set up a program including sewing, computers, cooking, fishing and art in the first term and the children really enjoyed it and learned new skills. We will be introducing new activities over the next quarter with the help of some Rainbow Beach locals to keep it fresh and interesting.
“Continuing to be involved in the community has kind of saved me because I’m an organizer and a planner and I think that’s my gift and I love working with children and families.”
At the same time, Ronnie launched the Community Pantry and launched it just before Christmas 2021.
Since then, they have received sixty visits from thirty different single people and families, who are struggling and really need help, which has given Ronnie and his assistants the chance to support them.
The pantry was run every Tuesday and Thursday from the Church of the Good Shepherd on Carlo Road with donations from locals and help from Woolworths Cooloola Cove who are striving to achieve zero landfill by 2025.
Unfortunately, a few weeks ago Gympie Anglican Church Council decided to enforce the church-wide rule that anyone working or volunteering for the Anglican Church must be vaccinated, so Ronnie couldn’t continue with the pantry at the current location.
Children’s activities were also not permitted and the learning community is very grateful to the Rainbow Beach Community Center who came to the rescue by providing space to continue their activities.
Learning Community activities take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to give homeschooling parents a chance to take a break, chat, meet other parents and do some social work. volunteering as a helper.
“In the afternoon, Sarah and Dean from Rainbow Beach Learn to Surf take the kids hiking, kayaking, boogie boarding, rock hopping or surfing.”
The Rainbow Beach Community Pantry under the governance of Pindari Life Ltd, a charity dedicated to supporting families, recently became a member of Foodbank which provides fresh produce and pantry items at a reduced cost to charities. Ronnie has approached Geoff of McClintock Transport who are ready to transport the groceries from Rocklea to Gympie every Monday afternoon, where Ronnie will pick them up and bring them to Rainbow on Tuesday mornings. The pantry will start operating again on May 9 from a new location to be confirmed with baskets filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and pantry produce every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“Although I don’t work as a chaplain, I still hope people feel like they can talk to me as a chaplain or a friend. I’m a financial advisor and counselor by training, and I find it very rewarding to be able to help people when they need a listening ear.
“Sometimes people just need someone to talk to. Being a chaplain has been the most amazing job and not what I expected, and I hope that even though I’m not in school, I can continue to support the Rainbow Beach community.
If you would like to sign up for a basket which will cost $10 to cover transport and some groceries, please call Ronnie on 0413 135 867.