In 2000 Ben ‘Benno’ Hopkins was a hydrogeologist who had started attending WestCare Church. It wasn’t long before he joined congregation members in volunteering to serve lunches every Sunday at the WestCare Centre.
“I have some great memories of special events we had – in particular, AFL grand finals when we’d have a meal and get out the TV so people coming to WestCare could watch the grand final on the big screen with everyone.”
At the time, ‘Adventure Breaks’ (the precursor to Adventure Services) was located at WestCare. Benno began volunteering one day a week taking young people into the great outdoors.
“I became a serial pest. I wanted to go on every trip.”
Despite his eagerness, when faced with the opportunity to work full time in Adventure Breaks, he hesitated.
“It was a big decision. Big pay cut. Two little kids. I thought ‘I’ll give it 12 months. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll go back to hydrogeology.’”
He never went back.
Now, with Benno preparing to leave Baptist Care SA to join his family interstate, he reflects on the highlights over the past 20 years, including:
“We’d had so much feedback from young people in Tumbelin about the need for a residential drug and alcohol program, so I started researching it and I read about Triple Care Farm in NSW. I took long service leave and visited the farm, and it became inspiration for Tumbelin Farm,” Benno explains.
“I am so passionate about Tumbelin Farm. I’m so proud of Baptist Care SA for taking that risk – there is just nothing like it in South Australia.”
“Tumbelin’ means ‘awaken and live’ in Ngarrindjeri. And I’m eternally grateful for having had the opportunity to know and work with Clyde Rigney Snr who gifted the program that name. Such a wise Aboriginal man who changed the way I think about country and spirituality. There’s nothing like seeing young people awaken and come alive through experiential learning in the outdoors. And I feel like I had that same opportunity to awaken and live. That’s why I kept coming back.”
“Tumbelin Outreach and Tumbelin Farm are part of Benno’s legacy,” says Senior Manager Adventure Pathways, Tobin Hanna. “They wouldn’t have existed without Benno’s creative ability and passion. He will be greatly missed, and we wish him all the best in the future.”