Trash and Treasure - A Teenager's Perspective


As a teenage high school student enjoying the much needed holidays before my last term at high school, I did not want to spend my last day of the beloved break working at this Rotary thing my mother kept mentioning. I agreed after my mother told me it would be a new experience and went on about how lazy teenagers are. Which she really didn’t need to point out, us teenagers know we’re lazy, and  we’re proud. That Sunday began with my mom waking me up at the ungodly hour of 5:00 am, when the outside world through my window looked dark and desolate. I was in a dazed stupor as we drove there (late of course, because I fell asleep in the shower) and arrived there at 5:45 am. Many Rotarians were already there setting things up, putting up fences and banners and signs for traffic. They were doing this with no complaints and in the cold dark place that was early morning Canberra. I admired these people as I helped my own mother set up some road signs, wondering how they managed it during winter.


We kept working until the sun finally decided to poke out it’s sleepy head. I felt relief as the warm rays of sunshine hit, and the world was no longer an old black and white film. People had started to arrive when I had my back turned and were setting up stalls. A group of us stood around the once lonely looking yellow Rotary trailer-that was no longer lonely but still yellow. With the rising sun came people and energy. My eyes were finally open and the tiredness gone. As if in an instant Jamison Plaza car park had been turned into a busy marketplace. Colours of different fruit and fresh flower blossomed around, there were people dropping generous donations into the bucket up the front, and trading goods at the stalls. There were a range of different stalls, from vegetation, to tools, to books, to jewellery, to antiques-this place had it all.


Len Glare, Rotary Team Leader, soon sent me off with Peter Kain, another Rotary member, because he wanted me to learn about how Trash and Treasure works. We both went to collect stall money and to make sure everything was in order. As we went around collecting money, I noticed Peter talking to most of the people as if they were all his pals he’s hung out with for years. Then, I found out some of these people had been coming to Trash and Treasure for decades, many before I was born. By the time we were finished, I realized something important. Trash and Treasure wasn’t just a grocery shop like Coles, neither was it just a second hand shop like Salvos. It was a community of people and memories, with lots of hard work. It was like a little community, no, it is a lifestyle. When I left, (after buying a bunch of stuff, including the most amazing Harry Potter necklace, sold by a teenage girl). I came to see that Rotary really did have an impact on the community, even if many people never noticed. Trash and Treasure is more than just a string of shops, it’s a ritual for a family of people who come together to share new experiences and bond with each other.


Thank you Rotary Club of Belconnen for this wonderful experience, I am sure to come again.