Have you ever wondered if there was any support for the homeless?
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7. When the Roll is called up Yonder
On 31 January 2014 Rapid Relief Team was given the privilege of working alongside the unselfish and dedicated staff and volunteers of Parramatta Mission in Western Sydney. Parramatta Mission has a programme called the Meals Plus Community Outreach Program. This programme consists of providing meals, case work support and emergency food parcels for those who are in difficult times. A safe and happy atmosphere is provided where needy people can come and have a hot meal, access to showers, laundry facilities, counselling services, and much more.
The Meals Plus Program provides 40 000 meals per year! That is breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday, 52 weeks of the year. They also provide counselling and advisory services which is the ‘plus’. This incredible service is all provided by willing volunteers with the exception of a chef and a couple of case workers.
To host a ‘Corporate Volunteer Lunch’ businesses pay a fee and provide volunteers to help prepare the food. This particular day RRT served just under 200 people.
RRT volunteers arrived at 9:00 am in the morning and were fully supervised in numerous tasks including:
• The preparation of a nutritious meal – During our visit we enjoyed chopping up a healthy colourful salad, carving ham and turkey, making a tasty cheese sauce for the cauliflower, cooking peas, making gravy, buttering rolls, cooking crispy roast potatoes.
• Unloading of food trucks – This includes items that generous stores donate to the centre. This food is often included in emergency food parcels.
• Preparing the dining room – Tables had to be set up and table cloths put on, chairs set out and serving tables prepared with all the utensils to cope with a crowd.
• Serving the food – At 11:30 am the doors were opened and people were welcomed in for their meal. Each of the RRT volunteers was given a dish to serve. This gave us a chance to interact and encourage those we served lunch to.
As an extra highlight for the day RRT organised the attendance of the girls’ choir who performed on stage as the people ate their meal. This was warmly enjoyed by everyone. Thanks girls! At 1:00 pm the doors were closed and everything was taken back to the kitchens. All reusable leftover food was put into containers to be reused, tables were taken down, chairs stacked, floors swept. The RRT volunteers really enjoyed their day and will certainly be in touch with Parramatta Mission to host and support future events. RRT would like to extend a big thank you to Parramatta Mission for allowing us to share their work and would encourage anyone to donate their time or money to support the Meals Plus programme.