HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Story behind Helping Hands’ creation
After emigrating to Australia from South Africa and New Zealand, a local charity founder identified an urgent need in her new found community, leading to the creation of something special and life-changing for many.
Helping Hands founder Carmen Evans has been operating her drop in centre for domestic violence victims and a dollar boutique since her humble beginnings in 2013.
“For the first few years we floated between people’s garages, back decks, I even used my car as an office,” Mrs Evans said.
“Eventually we found a building on Loam St, and we were able to rent from Waminda Services.”
The charity organisation unveiled their new location at 48 Cooper St on February 3 for their grand opening, with a stellar reception from the community.
Her inspiration for Helping Hands stemmed from some of her personal experiences in her life, and her need to help others.
“I started myself for the first three years, and I came from a background where I’ve seen and had personally experienced some of the things that these mums have gone through,” she said.
“I left South Africa 18 years ago … and I lived in New Zealand for five years, then I got my citizenship.
“My family then came over to [Australia] then my brothers came … then I followed them here.”
When she first moved to Dalby, Mrs Evans quickly realised there was a need that wasn’t being met by other organisations circa 2013.
“I saw an opportunity specifically for those mothers and women who were affected by domestic violence,” she said.
“When they go to the crisis centre, they’re helped with financials, a place to live, how to keep herself safe, but when she walks out she only has the suitcase of clothes she brought.
“The crisis centre send them to us, and we deck her out with her physical needs, such as food, school clothes for the kids, kitchen items, linen, and more.
“It’s those necessities they need the most that we help with.”
Mrs Evans has now been in Dalby for a decade, raising her family in the Western Downs and providing a helping hand to domestic abuse survivors, and those in need of assistance.
The organisation has extended its help to surrounding towns in Chinchilla, Tara, Jandowae and Bell in the past three years, providing cheap clothing, food, linen, and more to the community.