Racking up the hours so the money flows
Former principal Pat Mangelsdorf has clocked up more than 100 interviews and put in 10-12 hour days since bushfires ravaged Batlow early in the New Year.
A member of the Vinnies conference at Tumut, Pat has helped bushfire-affected families and individuals to help them complete application forms for the donated money that Vinnies is distributing.
“It’s full on,” Pat said. “I’ve never worked so hard and it’s been emotionally draining too.”
An educator for more than 40 years, Pat moved to Tumut in 2006 to become principal of McAuley Catholic Central School, where she stayed five years. Previously she was principal at St Mary’s War Memorial School in West Wyalong.
The tireless worker joined the Vinnies conference when she retired as McAuley principal. The bushfire work has been all-consuming.
“One of the things that has struck me is the people in Batlow who stayed to defend their homes against such great odds,” Pat said.
“If you saw the area around Batlow you’d wonder how anything survived.
“The people who have lost everything are still in a daze. They don’t know whether to rebuild. They are not ready yet. It’s like a death.”
A no-nonsense operator, Pat sees a lot of disillusionment with the church as an organisation but points to Vinnies conferences as signs of hope.
“What we are doing is what the early Christians did,” Pat said. “Everything was shared in common. That’s so different to the values of our world today where everyone has to have the best.
“We don’t need all that to be happy and fulfilled. Where the church will prosper is in places where they are strong groups like Vinnies.
“We try to be hopeful as well as helpful. When we grew up you knew life had its ups and downs and got on with things. A lot of that resilience is lost nowadays. Sure this is a mighty down, but it’s not the end of the world and people are here to help.”