Jackie Scully has been a committee member of Ocean Grove Coastcare since day one. Below she captures her reflection of the last 10 years.
Connection was what I was looking for when I moved to Ocean Grove a little over ten years ago. I was 25, fresh out of an environmental science degree and lured to the coast for lifestyle and love. I was ready to get my hands dirty, learn more about the coastal environment and meet like-minded people.
Shortly after moving here I met the regional Coastcare Facilitator who introduced me to a handful of other, similarly aged women. Coincidentally each of us was new to Ocean Grove, shared backgrounds in environmental studies and were looking for a way to connect with the people and place we had moved to. With no obvious outlet, we set about creating our own. Bolstered by a healthy dose of naivety and enthusiasm (both necessary ingredients) we hosted a movie night at the local Chicken Shop in September 2010 to generate community interest in our little idea. Eighty people turned up and Ocean Grove Coastcare was born that evening.
Since then, Ocean Grove Coastcare has established a strong presence in our local community. But our journey is one that has ebbed and flowed like that of many community volunteer groups. When I think about it, it’s a journey that can be likened to that of a migrating Shearwater. There are times along the flight when resources are rich, the flock is united and collectively you sail ahead towards a single destination. At other times, energy is low. Resources are scarce, the flock is dispersed, and where you’re headed is not so clear.
The founding group of young women have just about all left Ocean Grove, drawn across the country and globe for work, love and adventure. And in 2017, we lost one of our dear friends, founding member and past president John O’Reilly.
But onward we have continued, welcoming new members to the fold each bringing with them new energy, skills and ideas. The flock reunites and continues on.
One of the markers of a “successful” or “healthy” group that’s bandied about in the volunteer world is that of self-sufficiency. That’s to say a group that can stand on their own two feet, that can attract their own funding, build and retain their membership and continually learn and adapt to what’s important at the time.
By this definition and where we find ourselves today, I reckon Ocean Grove Coastcare could be considered a success. Our committee is made up of nine passionate, skilled and professional people. We have been successful in attracting funding from all levels of government and private enterprise to undertake countless tree planting, weed removal, beach clean-ups and education events, all of which attract a high level of interest from the local community. We continue to attract new members, each looking for their way to connect to people and place.
I’m 35 now and a mother. I’ve taken more of a back seat the past few years, but from here I look on with a smile knowing that Ocean Grove Coastcare will continue to evolve in new ways, shaped by the energy of the people at the time. And as it does, I hope that it will keep providing a way for the community of Ocean Grove to connect with people and place and give back to the environment we call home.