A SMOG Appeal

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As I sit and write this, the rain continues to pour outside my window. That really heavy, persistent rain that seeps into everything and leaves a sogginess for days after. Sitting here, by the fire with a hot drink, I offer up thanks that I don’t have to trudge through the wet to find the least damp spot to sleep tonight. But many of Perth’s homeless will be doing just that.

This is something that I think about a lot since volunteering for Homelessness We Care’s food run. Run by Santa Maria Old Girl Jane Armstrong (Class of 1993) and her partner Sim, the food run happens every Tuesday night in the city regardless of rain, hail or even Christmas! The service provides comfort in many forms: a nourishing hot meal, a hug or a handshake. Toiletries are handed out and other services are available on a regular basis such as physio, podiatry, vet and hairdressing. The Street Doctor sets up in the same place and Big Orange Sky provides a wash and dry for clothes and blankets. And now Santa Maria has committed to collect donations and provide the meal for up to 120 people once a month.

Why do I volunteer? Firstly, it’s within my capacity to do so. It suits my work and family life. I can tap friends and family on the shoulder for their travel toiletries, or to buy an extra couple of toothbrushes, a few extra little cans of tuna or an extra pack of ladies’ sanitary items in their next shop. This is the easy stuff.

Mostly, I like helping. I like challenging my judgement and putting people in need first. It’s refreshing to have my preconceptions around homelessness challenged by being on the ground. In that moment, seeing and dealing with the immediacy of their needs, all judgement is suspended. All I can see are people who deserve kindness and dignity. It’s an embodiment of the Mercy spirit that has stayed with me long after I left the College.

Throughout my life, that Mercy spirit sometimes just gave me a little nudge and other times a big shove. Those who know me well, know that I usually like helping in the background, I don’t like to share who or why I’m helping, and would even be surprised I’ve committed to even write this, but that ol’ Mercy spirit is flaring up a little more lately and I feel compelled to encourage others to commit, even a little, to Homelessness We Care. Besides we need your stuff: travel toiletries, little bit of extra from your weekly shop, a hot meal for our SMC food run, warm socks, beanies and jackets. If you feel that Mercy spirit speaking a little louder than usual, and believe me, you don’t need to be an Old Girl to feel it, you might find it in your capacity to commit to a Tuesday evening once in a while. You will get more than you give, the spirit is strong and the camaraderie is great!

Fleur De Campi (Cason-Odorisio, class of 1986)

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Old Girls Service – Feeding the Homeless

We set out from the busy kitchens of Santa Maria at about 5.00 pm on a cold Tuesday evening and headed into the city, not really knowing what kind of experience we would have as volunteers to the homeless.

We had made a lovely hot meal of bolognaise and potatoes with salad, bread and fruit!  The homeless people were already gathering with enthusiasm to collect their meal. With help from Jane, we set up on the verge of Wellington Street in Perth. No sooner had we set up and been given designated jobs, the people arrived with smiles on their faces and nothing but kind words to thank us for our efforts.

It was a great feeling to contribute a small personal way those with much less than myself, especially when it can seem that the world is not on your side.

I really look forward to doing this again, it was a really lovely experience.

Elouise Constantine (Class of 1986)

Soup Patrol

Soup Patrol is a mobile food service for people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, socially disadvantaged, or on very low incomes. It is a ‘no questions asked’, volunteer-delivered service operating in Perth and Fremantle, seven nights a week, 365 nights a year. It is managed by Red Cross and makes a huge difference to the homeless community, often providing them with the only nutritious meal they will have in a day.

Santa Maria College runs the Fremantle Soup Patrol every second Friday evening during term time, with two students attending each patrol. We meet at 5.15 pm at the Red Cross depot in East Perth where we pick up the van and stock it with the items needed for the soup patrol. We then drive the van to Hollywood Hospital where we pick up the soup. From here we drive to Fremantle and to the three designated stops where we distribute the soup to the homeless. We then head back to the Red Cross depot to wash up and clean the van before locking up. Finishing time is usually about 8.15 pm.

Some of the requirements for being involved in Soup Patrol are:

  1. Be able to drive a manual mini van (no special license is required), or if there are two adults, one must be able to drive the bus.
  2. Hold a valid police check. Red Cross will do this for you for free. A form is available for you to complete.
  3. Complete one training run with one of the Santa Maria teachers to learn how Soup Patrol works

The dates available for Terms 3 and 4 this year are as follows:

4 August, 18 August, 1 September, 15 September, 29 September, 13 October, 27 October, 10 November and 8 December.

Soup Patrol is a heart warming experience. The homeless are so grateful for the soup and appreciate the work of the volunteers. We thank you for considering this very worthwhile and valuable community service opportunity.

If you are interested please contact Andrea Fitzpatrick who is the Soup Patrol Coordinator at Santa Maria College. She can be contacted at fitzpatrick.andrea@santamaria.wa.edu.au

Jane Armstrong – Homelessness We Care

Jane Armstrong (Class of 1993) manages the organisation Homelessness We Care (HWC), with her partner Sim. The organisation provides food, toiletries and clothing for the homeless in the Perth CBD. HWC also coordinates professionals to volunteer their time and services including haircuts, podiatry, physiotherapy and doctor check-ups to the homeless on Tuesday nights.

Jane receives a tremendous amount of support from friends and businesses donating food and personal items. Many friends volunteer their time to serve dinner and are very happy to chat, laugh and hug the homeless.

Since starting in October 2015, Homelessness We Care has over 70 volunteers with Santa Maria College now joining the ranks of awesome people involved.

Jane Armstrong is also a Nursing Lecturer and Clinical Supervisor at the Challenger Institute of Technology and Director of the Armstrong Agency which works with individuals wanting to reignite their passion for life, by overcoming conditioned behaviours, thoughts and patterns. We are so blessed to have Jane as an Old Girl.

The Year 10 students and staff at Santa Maria College have begun volunteering their time to help and support HWC once a month. The students get to experience working with the community and a better understanding on the issue of homelessness.

The next two dates of the Homeless Food Run will be:

Tuesday 6 June

Tuesday 27 June

If you wish to assist in sourcing, preparing or serving food on any of these dates, please contact smcoga@santamaria.wa.edu.au

We are also collecting the following items to distribute:

Sleeping bags

Blankets

Gloves, scarves, beanies

Mens and womens new underwear and socks

Grocery plastic bags

Plastic containers for leftovers

Please let smcoga@santamaria.wa.edu.au  know if you can donate any of these items, so collection points can be arranged.

If you wish to help Jane and volunteer your time to Homelessness We Care, visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/homelessness.we.care.perth/ for more information.

 

Jacob Steber