Caring neighbours win Council’s Covid Kindness competition

The residents of Lotus Place, Bli Bli sure know how to look out for one another.

They recently held an ANZAC dawn service together, wrote chalk messages on the street for the elderly, bought food for a new mother and maintained each other’s lawns.

Fittingly, they have been selected as the winner of Sunshine Coast Council’s Covid Kindness Neighbourly Stories competition.

The competition saw dozens of entries from neighbourhoods across the Sunshine Coast, where people were asked to share stories of outstanding acts of kindness during the COVID-19 pandemic for their chance to win a $1500 evacuation kit and a street party when it’s safe to do so.

A panel of judges selected Bli Bli resident Juanita Bellhouse for her entry that depicted Lotus Place rallying together during uncertain times.

“We are so excited to win this. We really are just like one big, happy family,” Ms Bellhouse said while choking back tears.

“My family has lived here since 2007 and because a lot of us don’t have relatives nearby, our neighbours really are like our family.

“We’ve raised our children together, we have Christmas parties together and we go camping together. We just look out for one another. Everyone is friendly and especially during COVID-19 we made sure everyone was supported and checked in on each other.

“We have a Facebook page, and it’s just one of those streets where you can pop in to ask for some sugar or anything really. We grew up with streets like these, but nowadays to find them is incredibly rare. We are so lucky.”

Competition judge Tomas Passeggi of Caloundra Community Centre said it was difficult to pick a winner.

“There were so many worthy applications that really embodied a sense of collaboration and connectedness, inclusiveness, resilience and innovative ideas,” Mr Passeggi said.

“Unfortunately there could only be one winner, so congratulations to Juanita and her wonderful network in Bli Bli. We sincerely thank everyone who entered.”

Community Portfolio Councillor David Law said council’s Covid Kindness initiative encouraged people to stay healthy, creative, informed, playful, connected and neighbourly during COVID-19, and was a strong vision of council’s At Home in My Neighbourhood program.

“Strong neighbourhoods result in connected communities that form the social fabric of our region and it’s impressive to see these wonderful community champions,” Cr Law said.

“One of the outcomes of council’s Community Strategy is to build capacity in our communities to be connected, resilient and to respond to local issues and the residents of Lotus Place certainly did that during COVID-19.

“I hope these wonderful stories inspire other neighbourhoods within the Sunshine Coast to reach out and connect in the future.”

To view all entries submitted, visit https://haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/neighbourlycomp

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