I WOULD like to address the Oberon Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc. (OSR and RA) emailed letter to council about the Christmas celebrations, and the three letters published in the Oberon Review on February 13.
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Volunteering is a fantastic way to give back to any community, and so is OSR and RA.
Finding a niche in which to establish an organisation that is "to contribute to the successful development of a strong, vibrant and healthy community; encouraging residents and ratepayers to be aware of and involved with issues; creating and fostering the development of a proactive and representative community network of residents and ratepayers; concerning itself with the performance of local government ..." is an excellent proposition.
OSR and RA certainly sets a very high bar in the community and is particularly noble as it is run by volunteers.
What a great way to start this association by slapping down the very people in the community it strives to nurture.
In particular, the criticism of Oberon's first attempt in a long while to engender the spirit of Christmas. In 2019, Oberon Council took on board the suggestion by OSR and RA via its president, as well as others, to raise the town's Christmas profile. Apart from providing a budget and guiding a community services committee, council handed this project to the community and had minimal input if any.
The slap down of Oberon Council was therefore uncalled for. So was the slap down of the volunteers making up the community services committee who made a valiant attempt at providing a Christmas pageant, as suggested by OSR and RA itself.
Oberon Men's Shed, a community group, made up of volunteers who put weeks of effort into making part of the staging, have been slapped down. So were all the volunteers, some council employees, who put in hours of unpaid work, after hours, to help put the event together.
While I'm at it, you slapped down the local church who participated with a children's choir; the Australia Day committee special award recipient who gave hours of his time entertaining free of charge, as did a very well-known entertainer, who spent a great deal of his life in Oberon and performed free of charge.
Slap down again to the Oberon Youth Council who gave up their time to volunteer with a sausage sizzle among other duties.
Slap down to the Sydney school who donated gifts for Santa to give to local children.
Slap down to Terry and Wazza, two elderly locals who freely gave of their time volunteering to play Santa. Slap down to Belinda who played the Christmas Fairy and Ruth who played a Christmas elf, both of whom volunteered their time.
Slap down to the ladies who volunteered to make sure Santa didn't expire in the heat. Slap down also to the photographer who not only gave his time as a volunteer but also provided Santa photos free of charge.
And also a slap down to the local parents who thought enough of Santa's Grotto to bring their children for Christmas photos.
The budget was generous and fully accounted for, and given a first attempt by the volunteers of the community services committee, who publicly stated that they would learn from the inevitable missteps, OSR and RA has chosen to slap down the whole event that was actually conceived from their own idea. What does OSR and RA want?
Where were the members of OSR and RA if they thought the community volunteers failed to produce skill-sets, be professional event managers and fell well short of what they seemed to think was an acceptable standard?
Everyone who participated was a community member, a volunteer who gave freely countless hours of their time. They recognised that they made some missteps and learnt from the experience.
Santa's Grotto was always meant to be a community event, warts and all; not a highly polished professional promotion managed by professional event managers with skill-sets acquired with years of experience.
The local community really appreciated Santa's Grotto, judging from the very positive feedback received, and will be back next year.
Again, I ask: where was OSR and RA when the chips were down? What did you contribute to this event?
If OSR and RA wants to meet the high expectations it set itself and speak for the community, it first needs to gain the trust of the community. Do not slap us down!
Let it be known that Hardy, Phillip, Greg, Robyn and Bill and OSR and RA are the Grinchs who have tried to steal Oberon's Christmas Grotto.
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