Blaze Aid volunteer overwhelmed with people's generosity

After investigating the Port Arthur massacre in which 35 people were killed, former detective Don O’Garey finds volunteering with Blaze Aid a form of therapy.

Mr O’Garey said after working among some horrible situations during his 30 year career in Hobart, it was refreshing to see how good humanity could be.

Helper: Former detective and Blaze Aid workshop co-ordinator Don O'Garey is fitting out a shipping container with donated tools. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Helper: Former detective and Blaze Aid workshop co-ordinator Don O'Garey is fitting out a shipping container with donated tools. Picture: Rob Gunstone

The Cobden Blaze Aid workshop co-ordinator and qualified sheet metal worker is astounded by the generosity of people and businesses.

These include two new Kubota tractors, worth $70,000, donated to Blaze Aid, a pole driver donated by Swanye and McCabe Colac to go on the back of one of the tractors and a man who drove 500 kilometres to donate $8,500 of equipment and to volunteer.

The public also answered a call on social media and in The Standard for tool donations including a chainsaw sharpener, bench grinder, vices, drill press and other items, including $600 of tools from the Cobden Christian Reformed Church, fully stocking the workshop. “It just pulls at your heart strings,” Mr O’Garey said. “It's unbelievable.”

He began volunteering four years ago after meeting others at Dunedoo in central western New South Wales. Upon hearing of his emergency management experience Mr O’Garey was later asked to lead the camp.

“It gives you an interest when you’re travelling. It’s a form of therapy for me. To see 35 dead people in one day wasn’t very nice and it’s a compounding stress that builds up, one week you might go to a cot death or a suicide, so travelling as a grey nomad for me is just a way of therapy.

“To see the goodness is fantastic. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. Overwhelmed by it.” 

He is fitting out a donated shipping container which is a mobile workshop to maintain tools used by volunteers in the relief efforts. It will remain in Cobden to be used by Blaze Aid in the event of another natural disaster in Victoria. 

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