Hope for the Homeless comes to Nambucca

Store manager Mark Tanner (far left) and Dean Evers beside him, at their Nambucca Heads store.
Store manager Mark Tanner (far left) and Dean Evers beside him, at their Nambucca Heads store.

When a woman escaping a domestic violence situation with nothing but the clothes on her back posted a plea on a local Buy Swap Sell site for donations, it started a chain reaction.

His heartstrings tugged, human services worker Dean Evers rose to fill a community need to provide people in crisis with the bare necessities, for next to nothing.

"If someone needed an item and another had the item, I simply became the conduit to collect and deliver. It all steamrolled from there," Dean said.

Eventually his house resembled "a tip" with donations continuing to pile in - at one point he had four 40ft containers-worth of furniture waiting to find a home.

That's when he decided to set up a shopfront, and Hope For The Homeless was born - Coffs Harbour's only local and independent op shop.

That was four years ago. Since then he's opened two more shops, the newest opening on January 29 in Newville, Nambucca Heads.

"In four years we've helped thousands of people, whether they've been escaping domestic violence, are homeless, or one cheque away from homelessness," he said.

"We happily donate free of charge any items they may need, like clothing, tents, blankets, cooking utensils, etc. When someone who has been homeless is fortunate enough to secure housing, we donate any or all items they need to set up home. For those individuals and families, it's like going on a shopping spree for free.

There's no barriers to jump - we don't ask for official documents for proof. We work on the premise that these people have been through enough already.

But not everyone who shops at the store is in crisis - there are many affluent customers too.

"We pride ourselves on having the lowest price anywhere. Sometimes they'll give us a twenty above and beyond the price of their items," Dean said.

"We don't get Government funding, our model is all about 'Locals Supporting Locals' - it's about helping others who need help as a priority."

But help has not just been reserved for 'locals'. This bushfire season, Hope For The Homeless has sent about 46 tonnes of supplies to fire-affected communities all over the state, including ones right here in the Nambucca Valley.

On November 10, two teeming ute loads-worth of clothing went out to South Arm for those who had to leave their homes with nothing.

Photo: Janet Donnelly

Photo: Janet Donnelly

The next week there was a mountain of camping equipment supplied courtesy of Dean and his team.

And they've never stopped, regularly checking back in with each affected community.

Dean said his charity seems to have resonated with people, with donations piling in from all over the country, including surprise semi-trailer loads from Darwin.

"We had to take on seven extra storage sheds," Dean said.

"If I had benefactors come on board to buy more space, I could fill four or five more shops. I don't want to stop growing, because every time we do grow, we help more people."

He's excited about his recent expansion to Nambucca.

Store manager Mark Tanner said the response from the community so far has been encouraging: "In our first day we sold 500 pieces of clothing".

With any 10 items for a fiver, it's easy to see why it's been a hit.

I love what I do. I love working with Dean and the volunteers here. And I know we're making a difference.

Mark Tanner

The community can support and be involved by donating goods, or donating their time to volunteer.

Mark would love to welcome new volunteers on board: "You can work as little as an hour a week, and you don't need any experience - just be willing to chat with customers, and most importantly, have some fun".

But Dean said support is also just coming in to the shop and finding a great bargain.

'We're in this for the long haul - hopefully we're still here in 10 years."

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