The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle celebrated the launch of its brand new Community Care Van on Friday 31 October. Staff from the diocese and CatholicCare joined Bishop Bill for a blessing and sausage sizzle to launch a new van that provides hot meals to the disadvantaged in our community. The existing meal service, the CatholicCare Night Care Van, sadly fell into disrepair earlier in 2014 and had been operating at a reduced capacity from the back of a car in the interim.
The cost of the new van, fit-out and contribution to ongoing operating expenses was generously donated by a member of the Newcastle community. Donations from the wider Newcastle community were also received and directed to ongoing operation costs. Regular patron Phil* was incredibly grateful to the donors and volunteers, saying, "Having the van here gives people hope, God is hope and this van teaches us that people do care, hope is a beautiful thing to live for." Phil admires the dedication of the volunteers and appreciates the unity the service brings to those who need it.
The van provides not only much-needed hot meals to those in need, but a place to come together, talk and sit with friends. Jamie*, a regular patron of the van who is currently between jobs and fighting depression says, "I come to the van not just for a feed, but to get myself out and about talking to people and enjoying some company." Jamie feels humbled by the efforts of the volunteers and kind donations, "The food I receive allows me to spend what little I have on maintaining a roof over my head and a room for my daughter to stay in when she visits every second weekend."
The diocese is looking to expand the Community Care Van services and reach in 2015, relying on in-kind donations and the support of volunteers to continue operating. If you would like to make a donation to the Community Care Van, please call 4979 1142.
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Article and photos courtesy of Geraldine Williams.