Today marks the start of a new and exciting era for the Timboon Opportunity Shop (TOPS) which will now be run completely by volunteers as a stand alone community cooperative.
TOPS was opened in November 2011 by Timboon and District Healthcare Service (TDHS) staff members and an army of community volunteers, including current coordinator Brenda Parfett.
TDHS chief executive officer Gerry Sheehan said the decision by TOPS members to step away from the healthcare service’s structure was practical and understandable.
“It’s a big step, but we fully support them and while we may no longer have official ties to the community venture we will certainly be there to support the volunteers through this transition period,” he said.
“The separation of TOPS from our organisation means the volunteers will be able to operate without the restrictions that are inherent in healthcare regulations.
“As a healthcare service, there are a whole range of parameters and administrative requirements that we must adhere to right across the organisation. These requirements were impacting on TOPS and now they won’t, so that’s a positive thing for the volunteers.”
Mr Sheehan said TDHS was proud of its involvement in the establishment of TOPS and the social and financial outcomes it had achieved over the past six years.
“Of course we are sad to see TOPS separating from our healthcare service, but we are also immensely proud of the work that the TOPS volunteers have done over the years to grow the venture and establish it as a big part of the Timboon community,” he said.
“TOPS has raised incredibly important funds for Timboon and District Healthcare Service over the years and we are all very grateful for that assistance and hope we can still remain a recipient in the future.
“With total independence now, TOPS can decide where future revenue goes and again that’s an exciting thing for the volunteers to own those decisions and decide where funds are most needed in our community.”
Mr Sheehan wished Ms Parfett and the entire TOPS team all the best for the future and urged the wider community to continue its wonderful support of the local initiative.