SHAPING THE PLAINS – Marie’s story

For our August story (we’re a little late!) it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Marie Crick. Despite only living in Clarence Plains for eleven years, this prime mover has spent her free time working hard to improve the quality of life for people who live around her.

Marie is 69 years old and resides in a small cul-de-sac in Rokeby with her gorgeous little dog, Gypsy. She has started and engaged in so many community-based improvement projects in order to give back to those around her. She’s even won awards!. She’s out there in the community as much as she can be.!

“When I retired, I realised I didn’t have much to do… after the first few months I was so bored,” Marie explained. “One day on my way home I saw a little girl fall off her bike into the street. She was alone, so I helped her. I asked her where her helmet was, and she said ‘Mummy can’t afford one until next pay’… I thought ‘That’s not good enough. What can I do to help?’ From there, Brainbox was born.”

Brainbox is an initiative started by Marie to ensure the kids of Clarence Plains have bike helmets. It started as a small idea: she wanted to collect second-hand helmets to donate, but that is unfortunately against the law. She didn’t let this deter her. She started making calls. To raise the money to buy good quality helmets, Marie collected donations of apples from a Huonville farmer and sold the apples at markets. From there, she purchased the first five helmets!

“The name Brainbox came from a competition held at all the primary schools in the area. A student came up with it and I thought it was very clever. Now, if a child wants a helmet, they’ve got to do either five hours of cleaning or community service or five hours of bike safety education. After that, they can choose a helmet for free. Or if they don’t want to put in the time, they can buy a helmet for $25 – they’re usually $70 new.”

The Brainbox project is coordinated through the Clarence Council Youth Services team, and any school aged child can access this awesome initiative. In 2018, Marie won Clarence Citizen of the Year for putting together Brainbox.

Marie also spent five years on the Mission Australia Housing Resident Steering Committee, where she advocated for the best outcomes for tenants living in social housing, especially those struggling to make ends meet. She’s participated in Clean the Plains on a number of occasions, was a member of the Growers and Crafters Market committee when it first began and is still helping out when she can.

My personal favourite of Marie’s myriad of achievements is the friendship group she started. Clarence Plains has many lonely and socially isolated individuals, and Marie began inviting people to The Grace Centre to have coffee and chat. She approached strangers, spoke to neighbours, invited friends. She even successfully applied for a Clarence City Council grant so that she could take the group on a trip.

The friendship group meets twice a month now, on the first and third Fridays of each month at 1:30pm at The Grace Centre in Rokeby. Marie was adamant that anyone is welcome, so if you’re reading this and would love to head along, she would be so happy to see you!

Marie was also an instrumental part of the creation of the Clarendon Vale GROW Garden, which itself won the Australasian Housing Award for Best Community Development Project the year it was built.

The GROW Garden (located behind the Child and Family Centre on Mockridge Rd) was initially put in for locals to forage in. While this is still true, it is now used as a first step in teaching young people how to grow vegetables, when to pick them and how to cook them.

“One of the best things in that garden is the saltbush. It’s amazing fried up as chips and on pizza. And watching kids explain to their parents how to grow and cook it, and having the parents learn… it was really something.”

If you see Marie out and about, be sure to stop and wave and say hello. This gorgeous woman is so friendly and fun to chat with. The warmth radiating from her is sure to brighten your day. Marie is a perfect example of volunteering spirit.

One Community Together is a supporter of the Brainbox initiative. It has been running now for five years and is always in need of more donations. Please contact Curtis Knox from the Clarence City Youth Services team on 6247 1230 if you’re wanting to donate or are looking for a helmet for your child.

The Shaping the Plains Project is supported by the @clarence city council Recovery Grant.

Many thanks to Finn for the story.