I love small towns – it was a very happy thing to be brought up in one, and visiting Mannum last week I was reminded again of their unassuming can-do attitudes and the many things that can be learnt from them. Of course there are also bad things about little towns (just as there are in big towns and ‘burbs and everywhere else), but the good things shine through to me, and I was reminded of some of these when I visited the Mannum Hospital Auxiliary Shop over the weekend.
It is open from Friday – Monday, staffed by volunteers from the group, and sells all manner of home made items – from jams and pickles through to hand knitted babywear, patchwork and hand embroidered items, baby bootees in football team colours, pot plants, and quirky bits and pieces (including a small block of wood with a little rhyme stuck to it telling the owner to place it in the middle of the floor, walk around it, then sit down and watch tv, secure in the knowledge that they have ‘walked round the block’ and can thus take the weight off for the rest of the night!), all at very reasonable prices and quite lovely. Most things are made by women – and it’s obvious that women are central to the whole enterprise. We bought up big over a few visits over the few days we were there.
On the Monday I found out that the Auxiliary has been going since 1984 and has raised just a touch under $500,000 (!!!!!!!!) since then, to purchase all kinds of equipment and support the local hospital big time. They recently purchased a couple of trolleys to keep meals warm as they get delivered to patients. I spoke with Liz, who was on duty when I went in and she said that she has been with the group since coming back to SA from Qld a couple of years ago. It was a good way to get to know people and get involved with the community as a newcomer.
I love the long term commitment by people that has had this amazing impact over that time. I love the creativity and skill of the makers – sewers, stitchers, knitters, tatters, crocheters, card makers, patchworkers, cooks, gardeners, wood-burners and on it goes. I love the unassuming nature of it – no-one is named, the workers are not front and centre, but the things they make and what they make it for. I love that it is enterprises like this that mean that small towns actually have a hospital. It is collaborative, fun, hard work, fruitful, and over time, has had a big impact. The shop is lovely and the team should be very proud of what they have achieved.