ON Saturday night Rita and I went to a friend's 40th birthday party. We must be getting old because we'd rather have settled down at home, watched some footy and hit the hay at a reasonable hour. Still, there's things one must do and we were very glad we turned up when we ran into some friends we'd not seen in years - Graeme and Glenys.
The last time we met, Graeme was driving a truck as a one-man business and, as happens to many, it went sour, with his prices being undercut by a larger transport company. At age 63 Graeme figured he still had something to offer and didn't want to retire. Not wanting to work for a boss, he also decided to give the transport business a miss and try something completely different. So he and Glyn started to do relief management work for motels and caravan parks. This kept him on the road where his heart had always been, allowed Glyn to travel with him and it took them to parts of Australia they'd never seen. That was seven years ago and the nomadic life has been good to them. Good enough to seriously think about retirement.
Recently, while heading back home from the north, they pulled into a caravan park at Narrandera for an overnight stop. There they ran into a group of grey nomads who were in town volunteering for BlazeAid.
BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with farmers and families in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires or floods. Working alongside the farmers, the volunteers help to rebuild fences that have been damaged or destroyed as well as lifting the spirits of farmers who are often facing their second or third flood event after years of drought.
Currently the organisation is working in Dunkeld, Ungarie, Wagga Wagga, Narrandera and Bribbaree. No fencing experience is necessary and all tools are supplied, with Linfox transporting equipment to the sites free of charge. All meals are provided. The volunteer simply needs to make his or her way to the area, set up camp and roll up the shirtsleeves.
Graham and Glyn's overnight stop lasted for 10 days. They reckon it was one of the most fulfilling things they had ever done.
"You arrive at the farm and see despair in the farmer's eyes.
"At the end of the (first) day you see that despair turn into hope and a reigniting of fire in the belly. These poor folk are looking at kilometre after kilometre of fencing that needs to be re-erected or replaced. It was just fantastic to be able to help in a small way."
Graeme and Glenys' retirement has taken on a new twist.
"You never really retire, do you?" Graeme said.
"You just do something for nothing and I can't think of anything better to do than being able to give something back.
"We still get to travel and meet some great people along the way, and the satisfaction gained is second to none."
They are off north in a couple of weeks to offer their services to BlazeAid again. No one should underestimate "grey power".
Good luck to you and all the other generous souls who give their time to such a worthy cause.
Go to blazeaid.com for further details.
Take care of you.