A Black Saturday bushfire survivor has re-built his business with a mission to help charities and organisations like the ones who helped him. When Goodwill Wine Founder and CEO David Laity most of what he owned in Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday fires he was overwhelmed by the support and inspired to ‘pay it forward’.
The filmmaker and animal shelter volunteer was one of the hundreds of business owners, along with producers and growers who were impacted across Victoria’s fire-ravaged state on 7 February 2009.
As many as 400 fires were recorded across Victoria on Black Saturday, causing 173 direct fatalities. Another seven people later died from their injuries and more than 2,000 homes were destroyed, leaving many residents with nowhere to live. Laity endured ongoing fire attacks on his home and like many business owners lost much of his work and equipment.
While processing the trauma of his loss, Laity volunteered fighting ongoing fires with neighbours, while himself supported by Salvation Army donations of clothes and furniture.
He was one of many Victorians to receive assistance from the $379 million donated by the public to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund. This facilitated payments of up to $50,000 to each householder who lost their home, and funded sporting and community facility rebuilds and support and counselling services.
As Laity found his feet with the help of a $15,000 Red Cross Bush fire recovery assistance, his thoughts turned to how we could pay the kindness forward with a business that made a difference.
“The early days were really tough. But I was one of the lucky ones,” says Laity. “I was alive and hadn’t lost immediate family. Suddenly it mattered to me more than ever that I turned this support into a business with lasting benefits.”
He invested the money into a start-up social enterprise. Goodwill Wine was founded as an online vegan wine business donating 50% of its profits to customer nominated charities while supporting Australian growers and producers as they got back on their feet.
Ten years on from Black Saturday and Goodwill Wine partners with hundreds of charities. It has donated over $285,000 to 300 Australian charities from animal conservation and medical research to youth empowerment programs and asylum seeker resource centres.
The CFA was one of the first organisations to be supported by Goodwill Wine and Laity is particularly proud of donating funds for rural community fire-fighting equipment and training.
“It’s thanks to them that so many were saved during Black Saturday – Victorians owe our lives and livelihood to the efforts of volunteer firefighters.”
Laity continues to be an active volunteer with his local CFA brigade.
Goodwill Wine’s “pay it forward” fire recovery philosophy continues, with the business now a certified social enterprise employing staff who have been long term unemployed or are living with a disability within fire-affected communities.
The business continues to source wines from reputable single-vineyard operations in the fire impacted regions of Yarra Valley, Macedon Ranges and Central Victoria and all of its wines are vegan.
For the full Goodwill Wine community giving and support story see https://goodwillwine.com.au/
For detailed media information, media photo opportunities and interviews with David Laity please contact: Andrea Rowe I M 0409 965 552 I E [email protected]