Our say | Community spirit still rising from the ashes

THE reopening of Bathurst’s community op shop on Friday is a triumph of determination over devastation.

It was just three weeks ago that the op shop, housed in an historic building beside Lions Berry Park, was badly damaged by a fire that police believe was deliberately lit.

The intense heat of the blaze destroyed the front of the building and left gaping holes in the floorboards.

Electrical wires and a cash register near the door were reduced a molten pile of plastic by the searing heat.

Assessors are yet to determine just how much structural damage was done and the building cannot be inhabited.

But the smoke created by the blaze was just as damaging, engulfing every room and rendering clothing and other items useless. The results were heart-breaking.

The fire was a terrible blow to a group of volunteers who had committed countless hours to keeping the doors open only to help others.

All the money raised from selling items at the op shop was funnelled back into the community while very often blankets and clothes were simply handed out free to people who came looking for help.

But rather than letting the flames defeat them, those same volunteers have continued working away at the op shop to get the doors open again – in a fashion.

They will be back at the op shop on Friday selling goods and taking donations, but it will all be done outdoors.

The winter chill will not stop the volunteers from setting up along the old inn’s historic verandahs to ensure their good work is able to go on.

These are volunteers who realise that the people in Bathurst who need their help are still out there – regardless of whether the op shop has been destroyed by fire.

In fact, they need their help now more than ever as the worst of winter takes hold.

Such community spirit is inspiring, but it is not unique.

We are privileged to live in a city where looking out for our neighbour is the norm, not the exception.

Hundreds of volunteers go to work every day across this city hoping that their contribution, however large or small, might make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

As the Western Advocate wrote three weeks ago, that is the spirit that defines our city – and neither vandals nor fire can ever destroy that truth.