In June 2020, LG Electronics Australia recognised and rewarded Rodney Mitchell of Shoalhaven, New South Wales for doing good in his local community. Rodney, a local volunteer was recognised for his start-up not-for-profit, Minute by Minute Disaster Relief inc. which delivers goods to communities across Australia in support of those affected by unprecedented events, such as the bushfires earlier this year and most recently COVID-19.
The devastating bushfires in summer 2019/ 2020 saw the displacement and loss of homes and businesses across the country, and with approximately 80 per cent of the Shoalhaven region impacted by this natural disaster, Rodney knew he had to do something and therefore created the charity group, Minute by Minute Disaster Relief inc. in January this year.
From one unprecedented challenge to another, Rodney broadened his charity’s scope and has also been supporting those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes the Minute by Minute Disaster Relief team delivering essential supplies, by way of a food-truck, to the elderly and those in most need in the South Coast region of New South Wales, equating to more than 110 deliveries to local seniors a week.
Furthermore, he has helped fund much of this program through the establishment of the Minute by Minute community op-shop in South Nowra. All proceeds from this second-hand store go to local affected communities.
We spoke to Rodney to learn more about his selfless efforts – how he got started, his greatest challenges and the future of Minute by Minute Disaster Relief inc.:
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
RM: After seeing the hundreds of people forced into homelessness because of the bushfires when charities could help but chose not to, I spoke personally to people in the towns most affected. I found that no-one was giving them any assistance so this prompted me to start the Minute by Minute Disaster Relief inc charity so that I could continue helping these people basically to survive in the meantime.
LG: How did you come up with the concept?
RM: I stumbled upon the concept after I had already done 13 full truck-loads of fire relief runs to 13 different towns and was running out of money because I had recently been laid off from my job.
Our pre-existing Facebook community pleaded that I continued to help and kept suggesting I start a charity that the community would support. At this point, they were fearing all help to the worst affected areas would stop if I did not pursue this. So, we started the Minute by Minute Disaster Relief not- for-profit and we are just days away from receiving word on our status for full registration from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
RM: We had many challenges when first starting our community op-shop at 5/10 Central Avenue, South Nowra. We offered everything an op-shop can hold, including low-income furniture at very cheap prices, if not free. However, we had to pay rent for the two buildings we were using which was challenging at the start. We thankfully have the assistance of Michael and Penny volunteering full time, which has helped us manage the shops better.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
RM: We have achieved a significant amount since the bushfires and have now expanded the charity to provide essential supplies and facilitate free house calls during COVID for seniors and pensioners who need it the most.
Our community op-shop funds everything we do in the community, which includes a furniture warehouse where we provide free/sold furniture for the bushfire victims. This is also open to the general public looking for a bargain i.e; a cheap bed.
Plus through our relationship with Pastor Pete Dover from the Salt Ministries organisation, we can replenish our food trucks with fruit and veg and give it away to the public for free through our op-shop.
LG: What is next for you and your initiative?
RM: Next, we will spend the remainder of our budget to buy a ton of new cold weather gear/bedding for our local seniors so that they can stay safe and warm this winter. We will continue to run the op-shop, food truck, furniture warehouse so the local community can benefit from our services. Michael Alliston, Penny Gray and I do not draw a wage or salary from this, and we have had the discussion that we are quite happy to continue doing this for the greater good of the community.
LG Electronics Australia would like to thank Rodney for his kindness and compassion for communities impacted by the bushfires and now those experiencing hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wish Rodney our best as he continues to grow and expand his charity work both locally and across Australia.
If you know someone like Rodney making positive contributions through their time, actions, talents and/or dedication to others, you can nominate them to be named an LG Local Legend by visiting www.lglifesgood.com.au/nominate-a-local-legend. We are looking forward to celebrating their achievements with you soon!