Huon Valley News

Celebrating our Southbridge volunteers

Volunteers at the Southbridge Re-use Shop come from all walks of life.

They also have a few things in common – many of them were regular shoppers in the store before becoming a volunteer, they live locally and they love volunteering at Southbridge.

They also think the world of store Manager, Sue Eaves.

“It all starts with Sue, because Sue knows everyone, by name and by spouse, how old, and it really does set the scene for the rest of us because they are really very friendly,” says long-term volunteer Robby.

“We just called in one day and my wife was talking to Sue,” recalls Petey, from the moment he became a volunteer almost nine years ago (he’s now the longest serving).

“The next thing I know, I’m here! Sue’s the center of the place. That’s the vibe.”

Volunteers past and present often drop in to the store, even when they’re not rostered on.

“Everyone does,” says Dimity, another long-term volunteer who moved from Sydney a few years ago.

“Some have had to leave for various reasons. Either they’ve got full time work or their businesses have taken off and they’ve got no spare time.”

“But they all come in to see Mother Sue.”


A happy place

The Reuse Shop is a loved part of the Huon Valley and well known for its huge and changing collection of recycled goods.

With so many return customers, it’s not unusual for Robby, Petey and Dimity to be recognised out and about in their local communities.

For Sue, it’s a constant.

“When I go into Woolworths, everyone knows me because I’m in high-viz,” she says.

“But when I go in with plain clothes they don’t know who I am. Cos yeah, everyone just sees you in orange all the time.”

Sue is used to hearing all about what is going on in the Valley.

“I think I know too damn much sometimes!” she laughs.

“But it is nice that I do know a lot of things, a lot of people and families and who’s related to who.”

“This is my happy place. I just love it.”


“The best thing we’ve ever done”

When Robby moved to the Valley from the mainland, Sue was able to recommend local tradespeople for her and husband Shane. Shane also volunteers at Southbridge.

“One thing lead to another and he just said do you need volunteers? I’d like to volunteer,” Sue recalls.

“Well I could tell by the look of him he’d be good fun to work with and just how he was motivated, his kind face. (Don’t tell him that though!) And then Robby came on the scene and yeah, that’s how it started.”

Robby says it was the “best thing we’ve ever done.”

“At our age coming to a new community, you only have certain places to meet people and this has been fabulous,” she says.

“The staff, the volunteers, the community made a huge difference to our life.”

Petey agrees.

“The whole thing is, firstly you get on well with virtually anyone who’s here,” he says.

“And the second thing is, you’re doing your own little thing for the planet. The less we put in the ground… we haven’t even grazed the surface.”

“Just try and keep the place a little bit tidy. I’ve got great grandkids now, and I want them to have a bit of the planet.”


Christmas Market

After a very successful Market Day in October, the Southbridge team is hosting a Christmas Market this Saturday 9 December.

So come along, meet the team and grab a Christmas bargain, from 10am – 2pm.

“We did really well that day. We had lots of regulars come in, but lots of new faces as well,” says Sue.

“It’s a big day. We wouldn’t be able to do it without the volunteers.”

As well as the Re-use Shop, there’ll be plenty of stalls at the Christmas Market – and, a free sausage sizzle!


*This is the first of a special two-part series celebrating our Re-use Shop volunteers. Join us next week for the second installment and more photos of the team.