Donors Ian and Jennie Witten open up about why they give to Bloomhill

BY JAN RICHARDS AND NICKY MOFFAT

 

Neighbours and friends of Bloomhill, Ian and Jennie Witten, recall a time when dozens of garage sales were advertised in the weekend newspaper, providing a great resource for Bloomhill op shop donations.

“Jennie used to send letters from Bloomhill to every person who ran a garage sale ad, asking then to donate anything they didn’t sell to Bloomhill,” Ian recalled.

“I used to fold the letters and put them into envelopes to post them out.”

Contributing goods from their business and volunteering for jobs like this became a part of their lives after Jennie’s friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Desperate to help her friend and “floundering” as she searched for useful resources, Jennie had gone to Bloomhill.

“I walked in off the street without an appointment, and I walked out of there feeling like I’d just won the lottery,” Jennie said.

The nurse who greeted Jennie Margie Gargan, Bloomhill’s founder.

She was warm and knowledgeable, treating Jennie as a valued accomplice and encouraging her in her mission.

“Bloomhill is such a welcoming place. It’s practical help they give, empowering, and insightful,” Jennie said.

Her friend lived in country NSW, and had just had a double mastectomy, which Jennie had supported her through, sitting with her for days before and after the operation in Brisbane.

“Bloomhill really made a huge difference to her, yet she never got to meet Bloomhill and Bloomhill never got to meet her. You can’t ask for more than that.”

After that, Jennie and Ian “adopted” Bloomhill.

“We decided that was the charity we wanted to give to locally,” Jennie said.

“I felt I’d been given so much by an organization that had no reason to give me anything. That was so valuable to me that I decided to give back.”

The pair live a few doors down from Bloomhill Wellness / Survivor Centre at Buderim.

Owner of Kawana Hardware, Ian’s business sense and handyman skills have been hugely valued for Bloomhill over the years.

He helped build the rotunda and aquatic garden, worked on pathways and landscaping the gardens around the café, and more recently helped build and landscape the new veggie and herb garden beds below the café.

More recently, in early 2020 Kawana Hardware donated soil and the planter boxes helping shape the new Bloomhill Community Garden.

Ian likes supporting Bloomhill because “you know the money is being used here”.

For him, giving to charities like Bloomhill is natural.

It runs in his family, he adds, as his father has “an Order of something” for community work.

“I’m not religious, but giving is good for your soul,” Ian said.

“People are tribal, they’re designed to work in a community. We have different communities, work/family. This (Bloomhill) is a community, people are part of it.”

Asked if he had friends who have been clients at Bloomhill, Ian said he did. 

“Yes. They said it helped a lot. It warms your heart.”

Ian may not want to make too much of his support of Bloomhill, but he has a long and heartfelt association.

“It replenishes you”, he said, as he shrugged on his jacket and headed home down the road.