Judy's story

Clearing Judy's garden

QBE Foundation: Habitat for Humanity Australia

'I couldn't have done it without you' - QBE volunteers get hands dirty for a good cause

For nearly 60 years, Judy has lived in her home on a massive 1500 square-metre block in the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney, NSW. She works six days a week running a crochet and bookkeeping business, and, since the death of her husband Fred eight years ago, lives with her two dogs Benji and Betsy. She and Fred, who was an avid gardener, bought their home in 1956, and raised their family there, though their children now live far away.

Since Fred's death from cancer and now dealing with her own health issues, Judy became unable to maintain her once-glorious garden. Weeds, shrubs and vines steadily took over the block, growing to waist-height and blocking both natural light and Judy's access to her clothesline. It was a sad state for the former prize-winning garden, in which more than 1,000 species of plants and flowers had once bloomed.

Judy had tried to hire overgrown-garden specialists, however she says they "just disappeared after a little while of trying to do it." It was too much for them, and it was certainly too much for Judy, who was identified as a candidate for Habitat for Humanity's 'Brush with Kindness' Program, which aims to preserve home ownership by partnering with disadvantaged homeowners struggling to restore and maintain a safe place to live.

QBE has a long-standing relationship with Habitat for Humanity Australia, and today partners with the charity through the QBE Foundation, which supports charities that help people overcome disadvantage, strengthen their abilities, and live more independently, successfully and productively.

When QBE Foundation coordinator Marissa Bonett heard about Judy's plight from Habitat to Humanity Australia, she knew Judy was someone QBE people would want to help. Marissa put out a call for QBE employees to volunteer to clear the overgrown garden and was overwhelmed by their response. So many QBE people put their hands up we were able to make a commitment to help Judy for three full days.

The 30 QBE volunteers, aided by Habitat for Humanity Australia, put their muscle into the task over three exhausting days to get the garden back in shape. They put their heart and soul into this special project, gaining real personal satisfaction from being able to make a difference in the community. Them getting their hands dirty made it possible for Judy and her dogs to enjoy the garden again.

The transformation was startling: from the tangle of near-impenetrable weeds and vines emerged a beautiful garden. "I just couldn't have done it without you all," an overwhelmed and grateful Judy told the teams from QBE and Habitat for Humanity Australia. She is now excited to maintain and enjoy the garden with Benji and Betsy — as well as for her neighbours to speak to her again.

At QBE, we believe it is important to give back to the communities in which we operate. The QBE Foundation gives us a platform from which to do this with a coordinated approach to grants, employee matching, workplace giving and volunteering opportunities. Find out more about the QBE Foundation.