Volunteer with DWCS
Our Mission, Our Beginning, Our Service, Our Values:
Click here for short version. For more information, please read below.
Help Bring Hope to Rural and Remote Communities Brochure:
Your donation could:
- Help people like Charlie to find their way and rebuild their life.
- Help mothers like Evelyn who are forced to raise their children alone.
- Help children to participate in all educational opportunities.
- And help in so many other ways.
Want to organise a fundraising event for DWCS?
Click here for information.
Click here to read or download a Thanksgiving Prayer for Farmers.
Downs & West Community Support (DWCS), a ministry of Sisters of Charity Community Care Ltd (SCCC), offers encouragement, discreet and personalised assistance to farming families and their communities in Southern Queensland who are severely affected by climatic conditions or family matters beyond their control.
We are motivated by a sense of responsibility to provide compassionate care and to share our resources as far as possible.
SCCC Ltd is a not-for-profit Registered Charity and DWCS is dedicated to supporting our farming families and their rural communities. DWCS is funded by the people for the people!
When one door closes another one opens. In March 2007, after nursing for 36 years, Sr Christine Henry, a Sister of Charity, was drawn to country life after seeing firsthand and hearing stories of struggling farmers who could not afford to put food on their own tables during the worst drought in Australian history.
Sr Christine wrote in 2007: ‘Farming communities continue to face many challenges to retain their stations/farms and the family unit. Increased stress and pressure postpone decision making, potentially draining their reserves and putting people in a diminished capacity to make more informed decisions. Disbelief, despair, and depression are widespread. Many families are more vulnerable financially than ever before. Virtually all families are questioning the value and possibilities of staying on the land. At least 25% of farming families have hit the wall and begun to talk about life after farming’.
‘40,000 equivalent full-time contract workers are without jobs due to the decreased work on the land especially in the harvesting, vegetable, and fruit picking seasons. Many of these people are strengthened and sustained by the love of their families and support given by organisations. For some, the harshness of their situation had taken its toll and the suffering had been too great to bear and, sadly, they had ended their lives’.
On 1 May 2007, with no money in the bank, the Downs & West Drought Appeal commenced. Flyers were sent out and within the first 24 hours, Sr Christine received the first donation. Yes, the people were wanting to show their support of farmers struggling and ‘doing it tough’. By 2010, the ministry needed to continue hence the name was changed to reflect the services provided.
Words and Compassion in Action.
drought - flood - fire - storms
Farmers and their communities experience financial and emotional hardships. A loss of income and farming infrastructure, culling of quality stud breeders and the prospect of needing to leave their home and farm has a direct impact on family, social interaction, their health, and agricultural production.
Support DWCS offers focuses on individual and family needs. These may include:
Practical support may include providing food and household hampers, toiletry care packs, Christmas hampers and gifts.
Financial support may involve providing cash assistance, prepaid grocery and petrol vouchers, essential home appliances, paying domestic and farm bills, purchasing stock feed, replacing water tanks, fencing, gates and repairing machinery.
Emotional support is achieved by visiting farmers – unlimited face to face interactions, writing letters, phone contact, visiting people in hospitals and utilising appropriate referral systems as required.
Social Events involves hosting Wellness Days and the unique Dragonfly Health and Wellness Retreats for country women, which may include health checks and relaxation therapies, self-care presentations, motivational speakers, companionship, and times for personal reflection.
We work, in collaboration with other rural service providers, to organise rural events and will assist, where possible, families needing immediate care.
Our Values underpin our activities and connections with people with whom we work.
We greatly appreciate all donations received from organisations and members of the public.
We value the significant role our volunteers play as they offer a variety of services.
We strive to treat people as we would like to be treated.
We aim to see everyone as equals and treat them accordingly.
We work together with organisations and individuals to make a difference to farmers and their communities.
We offer encouragement, building hope and meaningful connections.
to support farmers and their local rural communities by offering a listening ear, pastoral care, practical assistance, and organising events,
to work in collaboration with, and to utilise the appropriate referral systems of other rural organizations who offer professional counselling, financial advice, and local community updates,
to raise funds for purchasing essential provisions for those suffering the impact of drought, floods, fire, and other matters beyond their control, and
to raise awareness of the impact Natural Disasters are having on farmers, their families, and rural towns and to seek practical support and concrete action from those in a position to share resources.
BEING EXTENSIVELY USEFUL............in the service of the poor
Read more about us here.
Words of Gratitude over the Years
“You will never know how grateful our family is and how much you have helped us. The fork was attached to the tractor over the weekend and was put to work immediately. Thank you also for paying the freight. We had organised to pay this but were told you had already paid it. So, so unexpected. May you have a very happy Christmas and New Year.”
“We want to tell you that the solar panels are erected, and the water pump is working perfectly. Our domestic and stock tanks are full. Thank God. How can we ever thank you enough? We are truly thankful for all your help.”
“Yesterday was mail day out here, and I went out to the mailbox expecting the usual junk mail and maybe an account or two to pay. I was mostly correct in my expectations except for an envelope from someone I had never met. Can I offer my sincere thanks to you (DWCS) for your generous cheque which was inside. We are about to pay for water to be carted here for the household so this will be most helpful and will cover some other bills as well. So, thank you again and the Sisters of Charity Community Care.” Rod and Marg
“My family would love it if I went out more, but it is a bit much for me now, but I have really enjoyed today. Maybe it was because I didn’t have too much time to think about it and you attended to all my needs beautifully before I even asked. You know that we oldies are very independent don’t you! Thank you for your generosity and kindness to us. It was lovely.”
“We are just waiting for the bus to go home but I must tell you that we have had a lovely time today and I’d like to thank you for going to all this trouble to get us here safely and home too I hope!”
“This has been a wonderful day and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The food was very tasty but far too much for me to eat. I will give my daughter this lucky seat prize, she is very good to me you know.”
“I do not have the words to describe how grateful we are for the help you have given us. I worked at St Vincent’s and now you are helping me and my family…. we really are family aren’t we.” Joan
“You have hugs just like our mum. Thank you for being here with us.” Lizbeth
“Wonderful, relaxing, fun and enlightening – I will treasure the memories for a long time. Sr Christine would have to be one of the most caring and inspirational women I have ever met.”
“This is a wonderful thing that is being offered by DWCS. It made me aware of others and my own struggles and to be able to face them and think of how to deal with them in life.”
“Absolutely powerful, helpful and memorable time. An excellent well run, enjoyable weekend.”
“A wonderful few days. Exceptional women. I feel very overwhelmed by the generosity of DWCS and UnitingCare Community and other organisations. Truly grateful.”
“An eye opener into my body and soul. Great fellowship with those attending. The leaders, especially Sister Christine and Carly encouraged me to look inwardly and express myself honestly. I am not usually prone to attending all women groups, so this have been a real eye opener. Thank you very much for this openness.”
“Timing for the retreat was PERFECT for farmers.”
“The Dragonfly Retreat is a soul saver. The companionship, information and fun were like a breath of fresh air to a very tired mind and body. Thank you.”
“I am so grateful to be included. I am very humbled by the generosity we have been shown – the quilts, the treatments, the shoes, the food. I am very encouraged by the strength and clarity I have found from within. I know it will not be always possible but the all-expenses paid weekend made it possible for me to attend.”
“Very blessed to attend. The ladies were great, and some are in similar situations as me. Had many laughs and conversations – similar backgrounds, interests and needs.”
“WOW! The entire weekend was beautiful, calming, empowering, sensitively and lovingly presented. I have been overwhelmed by everything: the thoughtfulness of the presentations with various ‘magic touches’, the time that has obviously gone into setting the programme and the facility, the extraordinary generosity of people who helped and those who donated gifts. An absolutely huge THANK YOU to you and all your supportive helpers!”
“Fantastic – Very well organised. I am humbled by the generosity we have been shown – the quilts, the treatments, the shoes, the food, the venue.”
“A big thank you to the angels of Charity who came visiting at Easter. The large hamper which was left at our door was received with open arms…. food…. drinks…. I cried as we opened the box of groceries and saw some toys and Easter eggs for my children. Thank you and your volunteers for the loving wishes and prayers at this terrible time in our lives. Your support of us will never be forgotten.” Annie
“Thank you for spending time with our children. It was important that my husband and I to attend the meeting organised by the Rural Financial Counselling Service. We will need as much information as possible to get over this terrible ordeal. The kids loved the gifts you gave which they can now call their own and take with them when we find somewhere to stay!” Rhonda
“We cannot thank you enough. You have given many families so much joy and lifted their spirits. I wish I could send you a single snapshot of the faces of all the families we have given a hamper to and return the hugs to you that they have given us. You would not believe the excitement on the people’s faces over a bag of groceries and Christmas gifts. It brought a tear to my eye every time we gave one away. I cannot express my gratitude enough and please pass this message on to all involved as they are truly magnificent!!” Jessica M
“I would like to thank you for the many gift packs you gave all the ladies during our special day for country ladies. We had a wonderful time and your generosity was very much appreciated. Please pass on our thanks to the students at Mt. St Michael’s College at Ashgrove for their care and concern for us on the land. It is comforting to know we aren’t alone in our struggle to produce food for family table each day.”
“The work is hard, the crops are slow, but it is lovely to be out of doors and I give thanks for all I have and what I feel when working on in the fields. This is my home; this is my life!!” Megan
‘‘I just could not believe how kind people have been to even think of us. What you are doing is a truly wonderful thing. I truly believe that circumstances will one day turn around for us and we will be there to re-contribute back to the community that has helped us so much. Your hampers have made a big difference in our lives.’’ Sarah J
“This day has been a TOTAL gift to us. Thank you so much for coming and for organising this day. We are most grateful! If I could help in some small way next time please do let me know, I’d love to help you.” Joanna
“To organise a day such as this from a distance would have been hard but I have to tell you both that it has been the nicest day I and many of the other ladies have had for a long, long time. We know that you care, and we have loved the pampering, the massage, pamper pack and the gift of hampers.”
“Today you have GIFTED us with your presence, input on key farming, financial and health issues, and most of all the gift of companionship/fellowship!”
“Me and my wife need to thank you and the advisory committee of Downs & West Community Support for offering to help us in this time of great need. Without your caring support, we would have gone under and who knows, we may still go under, but we have given our best for the Australian people. We have been overwhelmed with the impact of the drought on us, our family and our Dorper Stud. Although we culled our stock back to a ¼ to save costs and to try to keep the stud going, it has become increasingly harder because of not receiving rain and running short of water. We live in help that we are ‘One Day Closer to Rain’ which we need so badly. Thank you for allowing me to give back by helping to deliver stock feed to others on your list. That’s the least I can do. Once again, thank you for your care of us and for so many other farmers. We are most grateful.” BH
“We were so surprised to receive a Christmas hamper and gift cards last week. I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for our family. Your organisation does so much for farmers in so many areas. THANK YOU.”
“I was just paying some of my bills and I saw in my account what you have done for me. That is a massive help! This week I’ve had all the extra doctor’s bills for my breast cancer check-up on top of everything else. But luckily that was all good news. Thank you DWCS.”
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This gift was so, so unexpected, and will help more than I can tell. I appreciate how you’ve helped me and many, many others.”
“Our thoughts and prayers of gratitude for the wonderful job Downs and West Community Support and their donors are doing to support us through the worst drought in our lifetime. Our special thanks to the Butterfield Angels, Marist College and Soka Australia for the hampers and gifts we have just received.”
“We are very happy you left us gifts for Christmas. They look lovely and can’t wait to open them. Nana cried when she put away the food…she said she is keeping everything for Christmas Day. See you soon. Lol and hugs.” Jemma
“I wanted to write to firstly Thank You so much for the assistance you and your connections gave me last year. I find myself in a position at the moment that cannot be controlled. I have kept my cattle alive through last year waiting for the rain that never came. I can’t bring myself to sell them for 50c a kilo knowing they are going to the meat works after all that has been done to get this far. So once again I am asking for help. Attached is current hay bill. I understand that I’ve already been assisted and there is likely so many more that are in more need than I. But I thought it is worth asking in case there is funding available.” SJ
“I can’t believe how fortunate I am for this help. As I said to him as soon as this drought is over, I will always endeavour to donate to Downs & West Community Support and to St Vincent de Paul.” SJ
“We cannot thank you enough. You have given many families so much joy and lifted their spirits. To the children who have put those hampers together, you have made the children in our community some of the happiest kids in the country and the messages on the bags were truly touching. We thank God for people like you.” Jessica M
“A big thank you to the Angels of Charity who came calling before Christmas. Yes, the large Christmas hamper which was left at our door was gratefully received and I cried as we opened the different parcels. Thank you to the children from Mt. St. Michael’s School and St. Luke’s Church at Ekibin and St. Aiden’s Church at Tarragindi parishes for the loving Christmas wishes. Your support of us will never be forgotten.” Jon S