Operation Cover Cameron Update and Back to Basics.

Written by AHQ

5 June 2014

G’day all.  I thought I would write a Back to Basics Post tonight and cover a few procedural things seeing as we have some new Aussie Hero Friends along for the ride.  First however, as promised, here are the next batch of blocks for Operation Cover Cameron.   This is going to be one gorgeous striking quilt and don’t forget, there are a few surprises that won’t be revealed til he has received his quilt. We can’t give away all our secrets!

Liz J

Jenny D

Linda F
And one by me!

Mmmmm, loving the red and white cut can someone please remind me to send this quilt along with a pack of Colour Catchers just in case all those reds are not as colour fast as they should be.

Now Back to Basics.

With a new people joining us from time to time it is often wise to go over a few of the basic procedures that we follow to keep Aussie Heroes running smoothly.  People tell me all the time that they don’t know how I keep track of things but the reality is that I can’t do it without your cooperation.  

As with every organisation we have procedures for getting things done.  We also have a means of conveying information. On the ships and many establishments the means for conveying the information and messages that people need to be aware of every  day is call “The Daily Orders”.  They are generally posted in key places around the ship or establishment and people are SUPPOSED to read them every day.  In fact the requirement to read them is a Standing Order.  When you post into a unit you are instructed to familiarise yourself with the Standing Orders.  Those orders lay down the various things you must know to operate within that environment and one of those items is a requirement to READ THE DAILY ORDERS.   Of course EVERYONE reads the Standing Orders thoroughly and diligently and then from that day onwards also reads the The Daily Orders thoroughly and diligently every day.  Well that is the theory anyway….

Here at Aussie Heroes we don’t have Standing Orders or Daily Orders but we do have the blog and that is how I tell you what is going on and what is changing within Aussie Heroes.  You don’t have to read it every day but please try to read the blog (and that means clicking on the link on facebook if you access the blog that way) on a regular basis.   I might be doing a post on Happy Mail or a Grati-Tuesday post but if I have some information to share then I will include it either at the top or the bottom on the post.  If you don’t want to read the Gratitude post in full because you are busy or whatever just please check the beginning of the post and at the end of the post to see if I have included anything you need to know about.  There just is not time for me to let everyone know about everything by email.  Some people don’t use email as a way of communicating with me.  Some people don’t want to be on the volunteer list and therefore are not on the volunteer email list.  I just don’t have time to disseminate information any other way so it would be really helpful if you could at least skim over the blog at least once a week.

When life gets in the way

I used to cover this a lot in the beginning but have not gone over it for a while.  When you take on a specific request it comes with a Please Post By Date.  That date is important.  I try to be conservative with that date but there may only be a couple of weeks leeway.   If you miss that date and post the parcel two of three weeks after the date I have set there is always a chance that the parcel will not make it to the recipient before they leave their deployment.  True, their workmates or the posties over there will do their best to forward the parcel back to Australia but it is not a fail safe method of getting a quilt or a laundry bag to someone.  Apart from the fact that this defeats the purpose of giving our troops a morale boost while they are deployed it also increases the chances of our parcels going missing. Additionally requesting a quilt, waiting enthusiastically for it to arrive, and then leaving without it has got to be discouraging – and that has happened!   

In order to avoid that happening we need to be proactive.   We all know that sometimes life gets in the way.  Equipment breaks down, kids or pets or old Uncle Arthur get sick or hurt and we have to take time out to look after them.  Sometimes our work situation changes.  For whatever reason you find yourself unable to complete a quilt or even a laundry bag by the due date.  That is fine.  We can always work around it but YOU NEED TO LET ME KNOW.   There are lots of things that I can do to reduce the stress on you and still make sure that our Heroes are not missing out.  It may be as simple as sending the recipient an email and saying “you are not forgotten but your quilt will be a little longer because of X Y or Z”.  On the odd occasion that the recipient is leaving and coming home so soon that there just isnt time to extend the posting deadline and still get the parcel in the mail to them perhaps I can arrange for the quilt to be posted to an Australian address.  The big problem though is that I need to know.  I need to be able contact the recipient whilst they are still deployed as most of my communication is done via service email and that email is only valid whilst they are deployed.  At the very least I need to ask them for an email I can reach them on back here and also need to find out approximately when they will be reachable.  Many of the troops come home and take leave.  We can’t post a quilt or a laundry bag to someone who is away on holidays and risk their parcel being returned to sender as they are not available to collect it.  I generally don’t post to an Australian address till I have made contact with them back here in Australia and know that they will be around to receive it.  I hope this all makes sense.  The bottom line is please keep me posted.  If you can’t make the date allocated please just let me know.   There is always a way around it as long as I get a chance to do something and there are far too many of you sewing for me to spend time touching base with each of  you individually to make sure that you are on time with your project.

I am posting it tomorrow versus It is in the mail

Lots of people email me and tell me that they have their parcel ready to post the next day or later that week or after the weekend.  That is great.  I love those emails but please, I still need confirmation that the parcel has actually made it off your hall table, or out of the back of the car, or off the desk and work and has actually been handed over at the Post Office.  Once again, it is not unusual for life to get in the way and for things to not go as planned.   I try, where possible, to email every recipient and tell them that their parcel is on its way.  I want to know that I am giving them the right information.  Additionally, I have been caught before.  I have assumed that someone has followed through and actually posted a parcel, only to find out some weeks later, when I follow up to see if they have heard back from their recipient, that the parcel was still sitting in the back of their car!  As I said, sometimes “life” gets in the way, we are thrown a curve ball or some sort and so I need to have a procedure in place to catch those curve balls and throw them back in the game.  

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE when you email me to tell me that you are posting a quilt include the surname and PM Keys of the recipient to make it easier for me to find their name and mark them off.  

Follow up

Finally, I follow as many of the quilts as I can personally via email or facebook message, depending on what contact I have for each recipient, to check that their quilt/laundry bag has arrived.  I do this for a few reasons.  

Firstly to make sure that the parcels have arrived safe and sound.  Very few of our parcels seem to go missing but I would not know that if I did not follow them up.  If a quilt does go missing I will always arrange a replacement.  I don’t rush into this as regularly following up the quilts has taught me that postage can be very sporadic and unpredictable but it has also given me a good feel for how long parcels should take to most areas.  

Also it often happens that the recipient has received the parcel in the midst of a busy time.  They may have opened the parcel at work, enjoyed it then set it aside and carried on with their task.  Many times I am told that by the time they have found time to send a thank you they have lost the contact details or they may forget to send a thank you from work as they are snowed under but remember when they get back to their room at night, but then some of them don’t have the access to a laptop.  There are so many reasons why they don’t get around to it but for whatever reason, my email popping up as a reminder is an easy way for them to say thank you.

I don’t like to chase up the troops unnecessarily though.  Please remember, if you hear back from one of your recipients, let me know.  It is great if you can share their message with me so that I can then edit out the personal information and share it on the blog. 
 Occasionally I will contact the recipient if I think their message is particularly special and needs to be shared more fully for whatever reason.   I send them an email, explain who I am, send them a copy of what I would like to share from their message and ask for their blessing.  

So far I have not had one person know me back.  In fact, more often than not I get very enthusiastic responses from people saying they would be “honoured” to have their message shared, or please “go right ahead”, or that is the least they could do and even, “that would be awesome!”
So, again, if you hear back from your recipient can you please let me know.  Some people scan copies of letters and email them to me.  Some photocopy them and send them to me via snail mail.  Some even type them up and email the text and most people just forward the thank you emails to me if I have not already been cc’d on the original.  

All these procedures help me to keep Aussie Heroes running smoothly and the admin under control.  I think most of you know that I do the bulk of the admin myself and work at it from Monday to Friday almost exclusively from around 730am till around 11pm at night, fitting in odd jobs and errands and the household in between.  I love what I do and am certainly not complaining.  I can not imagine doing anything more rewarding but still, anything that reduces my workload is MUCH APPRECIATED.  Who knows, I might even get a chance to sew a bit more often!  LOL

Quick Reminder

The next sewing day at Penrith is this coming Sunday.  Hope to see you there.  BYO lunch and machine and will  provide the rest.  Also, the next sewing day at my home is Wednesday the 11th of June. As with Penrith, please BYO lunch and machines and I will organise the rest.

Well, it is Thursday night so before I close, if you have sent off a quilt or a laundry bag this week you should be on the list below.  If you are not then please let me know so I can include you in the Weekly Dispatches post tomorrow night.

Bev and Geoff
Rita M
Robyn A
Steph N
Steph D
Sue M
Sue N 
Sue P 

Till next time…………..keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  JMxx

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