Many people have put up their hands to help Cobargo restore its RSL Memorial Hall to give the community a proper meeting space for community groups post-bushfires.
From the moment you walk into the hall you immediately become aware of how it's currently being used. The walls are full of posters and coloured pieces of A4 paper, maps, and post-it notes.
"The purpose of the hall has always been to serve the community," said President of theCobargo RSL sub-branch Glenn Morrison.
"While the hall itself wasn't directly affected by the fire, it is a space that is well and truly needed for the recovery of Cobargo and in fact we've been opening the doors for private meetings."
For the last 15 years, the hall was being leased out to a private retailer and used as storage space, but since the fires, people in the area have reported a rekindling in the activities of local community groups.
"Storage space wasn't how it should have been used, but at that stage the sub-branch was so small they needed funding to pay rates and insurances and so fourth," said Mr Morrison.
As the hall currently stands, it can not be leased out as it's not up to council regulations. It doesn't have appropriate fire safety features, an effective electrical and power system, wheelchair access, or bathroom facilities.
"The problem is that we've let it go and we've tried to get it back up and running as quickly as possible so that the groups in Cobargo can use that space. It's a space that is almost right in the business area which is really good."
The hall was originally built by the community through funds collected in the community over the space of three years in the 1940s.
"The demographics of Cobargo have changed significantly so the hall is really needed now due to the situation that has arisen."
At the moment the hall can be used by groups under supervision by RSL members but getting to back up and running as a space that communities groups can lease out would allow for the RSL sub-branch to raise funds to support retired service persons in Cobargo.
"We want to be able to do our primary goal because at the end of the day the hall in a means to an end and that end we are hoping for is to be able to do that social work in the community of ex-service personnel and their families," said Mr Morrison.
The RSL sub-branch are currently in the process of discussions with council to get a hold on rates until the refurbishment is completed and the hall can be hired and leased out again.
If that proposal is unsuccessful they will try to raise funds through donations from RSL branches.
Once the refreshment is complete a calendar will be set up by the sub-branch to prioritise access to the space. Exercise or yoga groups may also wish to use the Memorial Hall once it is finished.
The refurbishment will also aim to fit out a commercial kitchen which could also be hired for events.
The two rooms at the front of the hall that were previously used as a doctor and dentists' surgery will also be transformed into meeting rooms.
One of the rooms will house the Anglicare counselling support service which has been working from a caravan next to the hall since the bushfires.
Where is money for the refurbishment coming from?
The funding and expertise for the refurbishment is coming from various avenues.
"It's one of those situations where everyone has just put their hands up really and tried to help out," said Taubmans colour category manager Rachel Lacy who has been an active participant in trying to find ways to help the RSL members bring the building up to standards.
Taubmans ran a paint drive in March and April 2021 called In It Together which raised $180,000 for Australian disaster and recovery organisation GIVIT which provides specific services or resources for more than 4,000 charities and community organisations.
This year's donation, collected through a portion of the sale of Taubmans' four-litre cans of paint, will be used to assist communities recovering from floods, bushfires and prolonged drought.
The plans for the refurbishment were provided by Architects Assist, a national organisation of the Australian Institute of Architects, which provides pro bono disaster recovery and resilience advice to individuals and communities affected by natural disasters.
Taubmans helped connect the sub-branch with architect Nigel Dickson who had already been working in the Cobargo community to draw up the plans and drawings pro-bono.
Once the plans are put through council, the funds donated to GIVIT will cover some of the costs of trades, equipment needed and paint.
Bowerbird Community Op Shop has also provided some funding which will be used to refurbish and restore the windows and doors of the hall.
Mr Morrison from the RSL sub-branch also said that some grant funding will also be applied for to secure additional funds towards the redevelopment.
Local tradespeople and material distributors will also be prioritised to help support the community.
Memorial Hall another rung on the ladder for the Cobargo RSL sub-branch revamp project
The refurbishment will come at a great time for the site as the adjoining Soldiers Memorial was properly redeveloped last year.
The old pine trees which towered over the site were also removed as they were damaging the hall and taking up a lot of space during memorial ceremonies.
The funds for that project came from the NSW Government's Community War Memorials Fund which was given to protect and conserve war memorials across the state.
Funding to do some of the landscaping also came from the Cobargo Coop and the community assisted in planting of the new vegetation.
RSL sub-branch members said there had been great feedback for the redevelopment and for the pending refurbishment of the hall.