b'No one else had ever 2021/22 ANNUAL REPORTGREEN CONNECT CARE PACKAGESGREEN CONNECT UOW OP SHOP given me that kind of In the middle of the pandemic, Green ConnectGreen Connect was excited to extend itsresponsibility - it was a life was moved to do what we could to helpimpact in the Illawarra this year by offering Illawarra families in need.an ethical, sustainable way for students andchanging moment for me. The team at Green Connect worked quickly tostaff to shop on campus at the University ofHARLEY WILLIAMS|GREEN CONNECTWollongong (UOW). provide free fresh produce and care packages to people struggling financially or working reducedThe new Op Shop is a lively colourful space where hours in the Illawarra as the region was put intomusic is always playing, and the atmosphere is lockdown. welcoming and relaxed.The general public was encouraged to nominateCoordinator, Emma Baselier built the UOW Op Shop someone who was finding it tough by going tofrom the ground up. With a background in interior Green Connects website where they could alsodesign and textiles/fashion, combined with 3 years donate to support a person in need. working at a similar outlet, Emma arrived at UOW Green Connect then called each nominatedOp Shop with all the skills to create a unique retail individual and arranged free delivery of a careexperience for our customers. She has stocked package; or four weeks of free fruit and veg boxesthe shop with a range of preloved goods, including filled with organic produce from the permaculturebooks, clothes, hats and homewares. Along with farm; or a box of non-perishable food items; or a fewher volunteers, Emma ensured the space has freshly cooked meals (prepared by our friends atbecome a buzzing community hub for sharing ideas Merrigong Theatre Company). about how recycling will shape the future.The care packages were put together by the OpIts also the result of a fruitful partnership with UOW Pulse, which organises events and pop- STAFFING SOLUTIONS|HARLEY WILLIAMSShop team working at the Unanderra site andups, competitions and giveaways on campus and included warm clothes, blankets, cookware, booksaround Wollongong. Harley Williams is a proud young Wiradjuri man and toys.who came to Green Connect in November 2021.These deliveries enabled Green Connect to keepIn an industry that is often swamped by unusableAt the age of 22 Harley had never had a job. He local staff employedthe majority of whom aredonations this is one Op Shop which has accessdidnt believe he was employable. young people and former refugees, many of themto a constant stream of good-quality items. doing it tough themselves.Stock comes from Green Connects Op Shop inNo one would give me a chance to show them I could do Unanderra where more than 47 different wastethe work, Harley says. Then I came to Green Connect Green Connect worked also with other localstreams are diverted from landfill.and I proved myself to myself. organisations including SCARF, the Red Cross, Op shopping is great for people, planet and Wollongong Homeless Hub and Koori Mens Shed toIt wasnt easy. At first, he didnt feel physically fit or strongGARDENING & LANDSCAPING SERVICESidentify those most in need.walletthere is no downside! says Emma. enough to manage a full day of work experience on the And this is more than a shop. Its a safe placefarm. Gardening and Landscaping has been operating In total we delivered 576 Op Shop care packages,for students and staff to drop in and have a chatfor a little over one year now. As Green Connects 1,227 fruit and vegetable boxes, 215 food hamperswhenever they need to, connecting with like- Ive got to lose weight and get fitter! he would say atyoungest business unit, we are in some ways still and 1,134 frozen meals to 3,152 homes.the end of each shift. But despite the aches and pains he minded people.began to enjoy it. finding our feet and learning which avenues of A little bit of kindness, certainly went a very longgrowth are best suited to our abilities and skillsets. It turned out that Harleys passion for plants and his way said Green Connects Engagement and Support Manager, Ann Burbrook. botanical knowledge were extraordinary. He immediatelyGardening and Landscaping Coordinator, Liam Champagne connected with the Gardening and Landscaping team buthas been watching his team of young people and former then he became interested in the other business units atrefugees grow into their new positions as gardeners and Green Connect. landscapers. The pandemic and the floods certainly tested You guys encouraged me so much to keep going, hethe resilience and ingenuity of this fledgling workforce. says with a huge smile. When I received the booking forYet each has brought knowledge and experience to share my first job I felt like a new man!with the group. Green Connect is built on the principle of Harley also discovered he had leadership potential, whichcollaboration and throughout the past twelve months the the Green Connect team quickly identified.Gardening and Landscaping team have proved that its the key to a successful operation.When I was asked to do the training to become aIn terms of planning for the future, there is much to supervisor it was a life changing moment for me,consider, says Liam. Should we focus on residential or he recalls. No one had ever given me that kind ofcommercial customers? Were competing with the giants in responsibility.our industry so is it worthwhile going after the big jobs? As It was a set-back when he and his partner had to movewith all new business ventures, these are questions which up to Brisbane for medical reasons. I knew I would neveronly time and trial will teach us.find another employer like Green Connect. Fortunately,What a joy it has been to bring beautiful outdoor he was able to return to Wollongong to take up work as aspaces to residents and businesses across the Illawarra Waste Educator.and beyond. With the support of our managers and Coming back to Green Connect, being part of the teamcoordinators working behind the scenes, we will Emma Baselier, UOW Op Shop Coordinator again, working with amazing customers on jobs I reallycontinue to improve the world by building gardens and care about, it has boosted my confidence again 1000%! landscapes for everyone to share.PAGE 27'