It provided an opportunity to honour the tireless work of member John Hakes, who has represented the Society in a partnership with Community Health designed to support residents of the Coachstop Caravan Park. The park houses ‘at risk’ families and individuals who have no other accommodation, or who have been recently discharged from a refuge, prison or mental health facility.
Amongst others, John has provided residents with fresh fruit and vegetables, enlisted business support to purchase a vehicle to transport residents to medical appointments, distributed passes to the nearby pool in hot weather and assisted with the provision of pharmaceutical and dental services.
Much to his surprise, John was presented with a framed certificate of appreciation acknowledging his work over ten years. The award was presented by guest speaker, writer and advocate Dr John Falzon. Dr Falzon is the Executive Officer of the National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Dr Falzon began his address by saying, “I only have the right to speak because of what you do.” He sees himself as one who speaks for those who cannot speak, and his recent book is titled The Language of the Unheard. He spoke passionately and unequivocally about the entitlement of all to a voice, a job and a future: “We’re partisan all right – we’re on the side of the poor.
“You don’t build people up by pushing them down.
“The truth spoken by the people on the margins is louder than the lies.
“Sometimes hope is the only thing people are carrying in their pockets.”
The dinner, held at East Maitland Bowling Club, served as a fundraiser for “William’s Place”, a proposed accommodation facility for local homeless which the Society is championing.
And last but certainly not least, the occasion provided an opportunity for some 150 people of like mind to enjoy each other’s company and share a passion for social justice.