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Volunteering from the heart

Published 13 Sep 2018 by Mario Russo, Scottsdale Reserve Volunteer

I met Deb on the 9th November 1996 and little did I know how much she'd impact my life – during the time we were together and beyond.

The proudest days of my life were the day we got married and when I was with her on the day she passed away.

We lived at Lurnea, NSW, on a large block of land where we created a thriving ecosystem in our backyard. It took on a life of its own with magpies, rainbow lorikeets, corellas and skinks calling it home and raising their young.

When Deb and I decided to begin a new life we purchased a property at Oak Flats. We were to semi-retire and build a new house to call our home. Sadly, this would not be the case as Deb was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which stopped all our plans. Our focus was then being on Deb’s precious time left.

Before Deb passed away we made a donation to Bush Heritage Australia to be used at Scottsdale Reserve. Deb loved the bush and loved life and we felt Bush Heritage was the ideal organisation to support. Her donation would help with the restoration of the natural bushland that would become home to our native animals.

Last year I started to connect further with the work of Bush Heritage and the natural environment that was so precious to Deb and began to volunteer on Scottsdale Reserve in New South Wales.

On the 18th October 2017 a small group of my closest family and friends planted 198 trees in support of the reserve’s efforts to restore the grassy box woodlands. With the support of Scottsdale Reserve Manager Phil Palmer and his team of dedicated volunteers, there are now approximately 1,100 trees growing at the entrance of the reserve.

This site is now fondly referred to as ‘Deb’s Patch’. Though there has been little rain, the plants are flourishing and each time I enter the gates to Scottsdale I imagine what the transformation will look like in 5 to 10 years’ time.

I now spend as much time as possible at Scottsdale doing what I can to help restore the reserve to its original glory and to see it grow and flourish in the years ahead.

I would like to acknowledge the support of Bush Heritage Australia, Phil, the staff of Scottsdale, and all the volunteers who have enriched my time while volunteering on the reserve.

The end of a long day The end of a long day
Phil Palmer and volunteers Phil Palmer and volunteers
Phil Palmer, Scottsdale Reserve Manager, inducting the team in tree planting techniques.
Mario and his family tree planting. Mario and his family tree planting.
The crew in action. The crew in action.
Mario and Deb in the early days. Mario and Deb in the early days.
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