Judy Brown and Wendy Broome are the friendly new faces of Forbes / Parkes Salvos - and they have huge hearts for our community already.
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The two have come out of retirement to serve here, with a particular focus on upgrading the Forbes Family Store to keep the doors open.
Judy and Wendy have been on the road for 10 years in a motorhome but if the self-described grey nomads are going to settle somewhere for a little while, they're very happy it's our country towns.
"We've had nothing but lovely people, listening and talking, and encouraging us - so excited about the shop that's been upgraded," Judy said.
"The local people have been amazing, just amazing," Wendy added.
They have hit the ground running, though, with a very real need right across Forbes and Parkes shires as the cost of living rises and flood recovery continues.
Both have decades of experience in The Salvos, Wendy in New Zealand and Judy in Australia, and professional backgrounds in mental health and nursing respectively.
"We're people people," Wendy said.
Even so, it did take something special to get them out of retirement.
"We liked our jobs but this is different - you can feel that you're meeting people at the point of real need," Wendy said.
"It's not just a job, it's the ministry side of it and being able to get alongside people, listen and support, encourage," Judy said.
Through the Salvos they are to provide practical assistance, guidance and a listening ear.
All are needed by so many in our community trying to reestablish their homes and lives after the floods and severe storm events of 2022, or just facing the fact that their pay doesn't seem to go as far as it did this time last year.
"People need emergency food, they have nothing and they're having to use their money on fuel to get to places to get assistance - even to get to Centrelink," Wendy said.
"They don't have phone service on their phones because they haven't been able to recharge them."
Wendy and Judy are connecting people to Salvos assistance through the Doorways program - all applications do need to go through this central system - providing items from their emergency pantry or clothes and bedding from the Family Stores.
But these two generous-hearted ladies have so much more to offer than that. They describe the family store as a safe place for people who are dealing with so much in the wake of the flood disasters.
"A lot of our work is just listening to people, they need somebody who wasn't affected to talk to: it's been incredible," Wendy said.
Judy spends most of her time in the store and she's dubbed it the Treasure Trove particularly for those reestablishing their homes after flooding.
Some are still working through the clean up as they try to continue with all their day-to-day responsibilities, others have progressed through the major assistance and are trying to make their house a home again.
"The joy in their faces when they see something that's old - and that's what they had before," Judy said.
"They've had to buy new. They lost all their special treasures after the clean up."
The Parkes and Forbes family stores do rely on volunteers to remain open and both ladies say the local team is wonderful.
Forbes Family Store is open 9.30am to 3.30pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Parkes Family Store is open 10am to 3.30pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
If you can help The Salvos continue their vital work, you can donate to Red Shield Appeal at our Forbes and Parkes family stores or through the Salvos website.
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