When the 2013 floods and wild weather impacted the Bundaberg Region Carmen McEneany got to work to help the many volunteers and people impacted by preparing delicious meals to be distributed throughout the community.
Carmen has been profiled as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories project which aims to celebrate the community and create positive conversations.
The local woman made 500 meals in the first week of the devastation with the help of donations and her handy Thermomix.
“I remember lying in bed after 18 hours without power and I just said to myself alright, I’m going to start making meals and take it over to the Ergon workers,” she said.
“They didn’t even care what it was, they were so grateful because they hadn’t eaten in 10 hours.
“During the first week I cooked 500 meals by myself and then a friend from Maryborough came up and with the help of six Thermomixers we cooked an extra 500 meals in one day.”
Carmen distributed lasagne, mac and cheese, shepherd's pie and more throughout the community.
She said she hated the thought of anyone being hungry during such a terrible time.
It's not the only instance in which Carmen has offered her support on such a large scale.
The Bundaberg woman is also behind the local Boomerang Bags group, a global initiative which aims to replace plastic bags with those made from cloth and other donated and recyclable materials.
Carmen got together a small group of people after finding out about the Boomerang Bags process online and in 2017, they held their first sewing meeting at the Botanic Gardens.
“I just thought ‘whatever I need to do, I’ll do it',” she said.
The group is still operating to this day and has created thousands upon thousands of Boomerang Bags free for the community to use.
More recently Carmen has also been busy with needle and thread, creating hundreds of face masks for the community to use during the COVID pandemic.
“My kids and I made over 300 face masks last year,” she said.
“We just had them on a clothes airer in the front yard for people to come and grab!”
Carmen has a happy-go-lucky attitude and said the reason she liked to offer her support and time was because she enjoyed bringing people together and connecting with her community.
She said as a single mum of three it was an escape and a hobby.
“Everyone has something to give,” Carmen said.
“Any day you wake up is a good day if you can have the mindset of happiness, kindness and gratitude.”