A RANDOM act of kindness has put a smile on the faces of two Mount Gambier businessmen as they navigate economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business partners David Walker and Stewart Owen were on top of the world just a month ago when they relaunched the Treehouse Adventure Centre at its new home in the Active8 complex on Penola Road.
Opening week marked the busiest week on record for the children’s entertainment business, which was previously located on Heriot Street.
However, just days later as the coronavirus situation worsened in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced nationwide restrictions on gatherings, forcing the pair to shut the doors on the complex indefinitely.
“We went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, within the space of a couple of days,” Mr Walker said.
“It was just heartbreaking because we spent all this money on a new centre with so many new features, only to have it shut down barely a week after opening.”
Forced to stand down staff and cancel bookings, Mr Walker admitted the emotional impact of the closure took its toll.
“We had to cancel children’s parties and while the adults understand, it’s hard for a child to realise why this has happened,” he said.
“You feel like you have let them down a bit.”
Despite enduring a difficult period, it was a letter left on the company vehicle by an anonymous member of the public one morning that immediately lifted his spirits.
“You guys are amazing! Thankyou for what you both do for the community. Much love. You have got this.” the letter read.
The cherry on top was a $100 gift card taped inside.
“I have no idea who was responsible for this but it certainly brought a smile to my face,” Mr Walker said.
“It’s just so heartwarming to know there’s these type of selfless people in the community.”
As he came to terms with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Walker said he began to notice numerous acts of kindness taking place in the community.
“The other day I was getting a coffee from Bay Blue Espresso Bar and received a free coffee because someone had paid it forward,” he said.
“Support from the community has really come to the forefront during these times.”
He said it had reassured him they would be able to get back on their feet once the unprecedented restrictions are lifted.
“This community backs each other and I am confident that not just this business, but every business in Mount Gambier can get through these difficult times and prosper in the future,” Mr Walker said.
“I am really looking forward to that day when we can swing open the doors to the public again.”