Just days after Townsville’s devastating February floods that left hundreds homeless and all schools closed, one teacher walked barefoot into her classroom to get ready for her students the next day.
She couldn’t find any shoes in the floodwaters or in the mud that covered her home.
Rasmussen State School’s classrooms were in shambles. About 70% of the carpet had to be ripped up, and where the water didn’t come ‘up’, it came ‘down’ – down the inside walls; gutters and roofing, unable to cope with the huge volume of water.
“On the Sunday the teachers came onsite even though they weren’t supposed to. We needed to be open on Monday but desks were everywhere. We didn’t know where the resources were. We didn’t even know where a pencil was,” Rasmussen State School principal, Claudine Moncur-White recalls.
Then in the heat, mud and muck, staff were there, putting their school back together as best they could to restore some normalcy for the “Rassy” students.
And in the thick of the chaos and clean-up, Chappy Dan was right beside them, with a smile, coffees, and his famous pancakes.
“Wellbeing is really important so I said ‘Let’s get pancakes going!’ Dan says.
“It wasn’t so much about feeding the kids but letting them know, ‘This is normal again. This is who we are’. It was vitally important because it did bring that sense of normality.
“The first day was really tough. People were still coming back, they had their heads down. But now we’re back to normal, so that’s a good sign.”
Ms Moncur-White believes the school would have been lost without their chaplain.
“Chappy Dan was amazing. He was so vital,” she says.
“He was handing out gift cards to staff to get resources, pencils and whatever else was needed.
“He went into school those first few days and found the most affected first, then worked his way down. We literally could not operate without Chappy Dan.”
Chappy Dan is also known far and wide for his school garden, based on the book “I Grow in Granddad’s Garden”, which is a unique place for students, staff and parents who need “a chill out space”.
But the flooding and extreme heat in the days afterwards killed most of the plants in this beautiful space.
“Half of our plants drowned, and the rest died in the 40+ temperatures for the five days after,” Chappy Dan recalls.
But the school community’s resilience and the importance of this peaceful space has ensured the garden will bloom again.
“We are always looking at ways of building resilience in our students because that flows into our community,” Ms Moncur-White says.
“Chappy Dan is a vital component of our school and our resilience building program.”
But he’s only able to do that with the support of friends like you.
It’s something the school community at Rasmussen deeply values.
“To know that somebody cares; that people care and understand, and to know we’re not alone meant the world to our staff and kids,” says Ms Moncur-White.
You can help keep chaplaincy going for communities in need. Visit suqld.org.au/donate