Spotlight on Community Partners: The Geelong Chorale

The Geelong Chorale have been rehearsing at St Luke’s for many years now on a Monday evening.  Here’s an update from them as they return to rehearsing and performing again:

The Geelong Chorale are pleased to announce that we are in rehearsal again and will present a feast of singing in three major concerts this year.
Our first concert will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the quintessential English composer of the 20th century. For this concert we will be joined by four soloists to present a selection of some of his finest choral music: grand anthems, partsongs, folksongs, and movements from the Mass in G minor.
Having been delayed in making any overseas journey for the past two years, we are delighted that we can finally present “Around the World in Eighty Minutes”: a veritable whistle-stop tour of many countries via the world’s treasury of folksongs. Sunday 10th July at 2:30pm in All Saints Church, Noble Street.
In October we will combine with Music at the Basilica’s Windfire Choir to present the monumental ‘St John Passion” by J.S. Bach. This moving work has rarely, if ever, been performed in Geelong. First-class soloists and orchestra will accompany the combined choir, all conducted by Joseph Hie.
Allister Cox OAM, Conductor.

Autumn edition of Uniting’s Supporter Newsletter and Congregation Connect update is out now

From Dale at Uniting:

Dear Friends,

I do hope my email finds you well and you have all had a safe and happy Easter.

I am writing to you to let you know that a copy of the Uniting Vic.Tas Autumn Congregation Connect has now been made available on our website for congregations to access. I have also attached a PDF copy for your convenience.

In this edition, you and members of your congregation can read about:

  • An update on the Marrageil Baggarrook accommodation facility for older women experiencing or at risk of homelessness
  • Ballarat Lifeline’s 50th anniversary celebrations
  • How the Carer Gateway service is supporting people to manage their wellbeing.

I have also attached a copy of our  Autumn Supporter Newsletter. In this you can learn about:

  • The work of our Heritage Service team in supporting people to better understand their past
  • How your generosity at Christmas helped people to build a brighter future
  • Peter, who has left a lasting legacy through a gift in his Will.

This newsletter is also available online in a new interactive format where you can easily zoom in on the content as well as learn more information about stories of particular interest to you with a simple click.

Kind Regards,

Dale

Vox Angelica Concert Friday 29th April 2022

Vox Angelica Chamber Choir

VOX ANGELICA GEELONG CHAMBER CHOIR

Directed by Tom Healey

7.30pm Friday 29th April, 2022

St Paul’s Anglican Church, LaTrobe Tce, Geelong

$25/$20/Under 18 free, at the door

or https://www.trybooking.com/BYDGB

Meltingly beautiful music sung by this outstanding Geelong choir, including works by Monteverdi, Faure, Lauridsen, Elgar and Moses Hogan

Emergency Appeals – Ukraine, East Coast Floods, Tongan Tsunami

Friends, we are in challenging times!

If you are wondering how to help and would like to work through trusted church agencies, here are some links:

Act for Peace Ukraine Emergency Appeal

Our ACT Alliance partners in neighbouring Hungary have already sent truckloads of relief to support families forced to flee their homes due to the war. The shipments include 28 tons of canned food, flour, sugar, oil, rice, pasta, biscuits, long-life milk, tea and hygiene products which will be distributed at the Beregszász and Uzhhorod reception centres in Western Ukraine.

Ukraine Crisis

Uniting Church East Coast Flooding Emergency Appeal :

The Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN), a ministry of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT, at present has deployed 35 chaplains across 19 evacuation centres that are accessible by road, with many more centres inaccessible due to flood waters.

Some Uniting Church communities opened their doors to people left stranded or needing to evacuate.

Rev Hollis is inviting to the wider Uniting Church community to make a donation to support those affected by contributing to the Assembly’s National Disaster Relief Fund.

https://uniting.church/east-coast-flooding-emergency-appeal/

UnitingWorld Tsonga Tsuami Disaster Appeal

On Saturday 15 January, a tsunami was triggered by the eruption of underwater volcano Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai, just 65km from the capital city Nuku’alofa on Tonga’s most populated island.

Communications have now been restored and we have been in touch with our partners, the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (FWCT). They have been assisting evacuations from low-lying islands that were hit hard. In Nuku’alofa, FWCT personnel have been assisting affected communities with relief supplies and trauma counselling. They have appointed a disaster response Coordinator and are scalling up their response with help from international partners including UnitingWorld and the Pacific Conference of Churches.

https://donate.unitingworld.org.au/tonga

Frontier Services needs a champion at St Lukes! Can you help?

Our latest update and appeal letter from Frontier services arrived last week – perhaps some of you received a letter too.  Our bush chaplains in rural and remote areas play an important role in encouraging and supporting communities that are experiencing great hardship caused by natural disasters, especially after the initial attention that such disasters often receive.

Unlike the media, our chaplains stay focused on the people who are recovering for the long haul.

Frontier Services also runs work parties connecting volunteers to communities in the bush.

Perhaps you are originally from a rural area yourself?

You might be just the right person to share the stories from Frontier Services with the congregation and wider community, helping to raise much needed funds and connect city and rural places with each other.

If so, please contact Robyn at the office!

Spotlight on our hirers: Theatre of the Damned – Bright Star

Tony Dahl and his company “Theatre of the Damned” have been hiring the church hall for several years as part of their audition and rehearsal program for their various productions.   Despite the irony of the “Theatre of the Damned” rehearsing at a church,  this little community group is doing a lot of blessing in bringing people together to experience and share the Arts.  Please support their new show if you can:

TICKETS ON SALE NOW FOR OUR APRIL/ MAY PRODUCTION of BRIGHT STAR !!

After the devastation of our last show being cancelled due to Covid , We really need as much help as we can get to get everything back on track . Not just our little company but all theatre companies who have been affected by this pandemic, please support if you can and hit the TryBooking link and book your tickets asap to give us certainty going forward.
We have an incredible group working on this amazing show written by Steve Martin .
$37.50 will get you a great seat , free program , Stellar entertainment our eternal gratitude for helping us get back on stage and a special Theatre of the Damned Hug or a Handshake at the door as you leave by yours truly , it’s also the perfect gift 💝 .
We are a family company so come and join our Damned Family , we would be so grateful! 💕

P2 masks available at church for hearing aid wearers

P2 masks are available for sale at church

Having spoken to a few people at church who struggle with masks and hearing aids, we have purchased some quality P2 masks with headbands rather than earloops to avoid tangles.

These are the kind of masks your GP would wear in a consultation – high protection yet comfortable as they sit away from your face.  They go well with glasses, reducing fogging as they can mould quite closely to your face.

Available during office hours and Sunday mornings, $3 per mask or 4 for $10.  While they are single use masks, they can be re-used if treated carefully:

“An easy way to minimise waste if you own N95 masks is to safely extend their life. In hospital settings, it’s advised to avoid use beyond one day and to dispose if they become soiled or moist.

This, however, is not realistic for the general public, such as when supply is low. There are a range of methods to reuse N95 masks safely, which are supported by the mask’s inventor. There are also re-usable options such as elastometric respirators.

For disposable respirators, the most straightforward reuse method in non-medical settings is to rotate your mask every three or four days, storing it in a clean paper bag when not in use. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after you touch your mask, and keep your mask dry — if your mask gets wet, stop using it. Consider numbering your masks so you don’t mix them up.”

Source: ABC news article: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-29/covid-omicron-fabric-masks-n95-kn95-respirator/100788406

While mask wearing indoors is no longer mandated, it is strongly recommended by health professionals.  Worship might feel like a safe place, but there are people attending who have daily exposure to the Coronavirus through workplace and school settings.  Churches are still a risky environment for people who are unmasked and unvaccinated.

Take care out there everyone!

Uniting Barwon Summer Newsletter

February 2022

Hello! Welcome to the Uniting Barwon Summer Newsletter 2022 – an opportunity for the volunteers and staff of Uniting Barwon to pause and share their successes, news, and updates.

We’re running a Volunteer Engagement Survey from 14 February – 7 March 2022.

In the survey we’ll ask volunteers to share what they think and feel about volunteering for Uniting.

The whole survey should only take about 10 to 15 minutes. Given how useful the information will be in identifying where our strengths are and where we need to improve, we hope you will agree that it is a good use of your time.

The more people that complete the survey, the greater confidence we can have that the results reflect our situation.

Volunteering Victoria is running the survey for us using their Vol Poll tool. They will  de-identify and aggregate people’s responses before supplying reports back to Uniting.

You can complete the survey here.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

A huge congratulations to Leonie Hunt for being one of the five winners in the Volunteer of the Year Awards (VOYA) 2021!

Here’s what Leonie had to say about winning the VOYA Award and about volunteering with Uniting:

I feel very privileged and fortunate to be a successful candidate amongst many very deserving people for the Volunteer of the Year Award. I initially came to Uniting to gain experience in a reception role but since starting in March 2020 my journey both professionally and personally has been greater than I ever could have imagined. This has only been made possible by having a wonderful team that works well together led by management that are supportive and encouraging.

Since June 2021 I have been volunteering fulltime and taking on the extra tasks of interviewing, food room, senior admin and program support. The extra responsibilities have been invaluable professionally and fulfilling on a personal level. Barwon has such great need and to be able to make a difference in someone’s life is very rewarding. As we headed towards Christmas I took on the role of helping to coordinate the Christmas Appeal. We provided hampers and toys/vouchers for over 1,000 consumers! Our small team of volunteers worked tirelessly and should be proud of what we achieved. I’m sure everyone’s efforts with the appeal helped make Christmas brighter for all.

I would recommend volunteering to everyone as the rewards are never ending both professionally and personally. Not only do you gain a sense of achievement and purpose but you feel a part of the community. The skills and confidence you gain are so beneficial as well as the friendships. Uniting has become my family and I’m sure the friendships made will last a lifetime. Uniting will always have a special place in my heart for how it has changed my future.

Image: Leonie, right, receiving her VOYA award

The Geelong West and Point Lonsdale Op Shops have got off to a fast start to 2022. The Geelong West Shop trading every business day over December and January and Point Lonsdale trading every day during December and January except for the 25th and 26th December and Sundays. These two shops are direct opposites in many ways.

Geelong West is Uniting Barwon’s biggest shop and Point Lonsdale is our smallest shop. Geelong West has large front windows that are used for displays and Point Lonsdale has no front windows. At this time of year the Geelong West area is quiet and subdued with lots of people away on holidays and at Point Lonsdale there are thousands of people who have come to this small town to enjoy seaside holidays in this very picturesque part of the World.

A Big thank you to the Geelong West and Point Lonsdale Op Shop Workforces for all their hard work during the December and January period. The additional funds generated will be able to be added to the Barwon Op Shop funds that go to provide meals to those who are hungry in the Barwon Community and to help housing to be provided to those who are homeless. Well done.

All the very best to everyone for 2022 and may all the Barwon Op shops be able to generate lots of funds that can be used to assist those in the Barwon community who are experiencing disadvantage, hardship, and poverty.

Christmas Program 2021

 What a send-off to 2021 we had! It was a very successful Christmas program and a whole heap of fun distributing hampers and toys just before Christmas.

With the help of our partnerships with Commonwealth Bank, Geelong Advertiser and Grovedale Neighbourhood house, we assisted over 1,000 consumers for Christmas across Norlane and Grovedale and packed and distributed about 300 Christmas hampers!

A huge thank you to all volunteers who helped during the lead up to Christmas – what a mammoth task it was!

After the mad rush in December, January felt like a breeze… our ER coordinators weren’t sure what to do with themselves! Just joking… there’s always something keeping us busy. We’ve started off the year with a new online voucher process and are completing our transition to more paperless systems – which is exciting for some more than others.

Thank you to the whole team for being so supportive of the changes and open to constantly making adjustments to the way you work. We really do believe this will be streamlining our operations and providing a higher quality service.

Education Assistance Program

Our education team had record numbers and record expenditure this year in the lead up to Christmas!

We had 366 Students from 251 Parents as at Tuesday 18th January and have committed $84,000 in expenditure for school uniforms, school fees and textbooks. We will be slowing down our interviews now, with the last of the funding helping schools who identify any students in need as school starts up again.

A huge congratulations to the Education team for another very successful and smoothly operated program. What a committed and inspiring team.

No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS)

We have also restarted our own onsite NILS service in Grovedale. Jo, currently holding down the fort by herself, has been doing a tremendous job in taking NILS referrals whilst basically training herself on the job.

Since we have started referring consumers straight to Jo, we are seeing an increase in the number of requests coming through Grovedale, thus would gladly accept any new volunteers who are up for the challenge!

Volunteers Needed

Our Norlane site will also be in need of some new volunteers in interviewing and food room, so if any of you have friends/family that are interested in volunteering – send them our way!

Consumer Story

Dear Uniting Team,

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to you for supporting both my children right through High School with such generosity, compassion and care.

My son has just completed Year 12, after navigating a very challenging time over the last two years through the Pandemic. I hope he feels suitably proud of himself for persevering through such a tough time of extended lockdowns, months of home schooling, finally returning onsite to school and completing his VCE exams.

My daughter won a scholarship when she completed school in 2018 with an ATAR score of 96 that allowed her to study a double Law and Arts Degree at Swinburne University. She has just completed her third year of study there.

You have always been so generous and welcoming, and have offered such dignity to me when I have attended interviews with you for assistance with schoolbook costs, uniforms and shoes for my son and daughter.

I would like to sincerely thank you and offer immense gratitude for the support you have given us.
It has made a huge difference to my daughter and son throughout their high school years.

I try to instil in them values of generosity, compassion and kindness as your organisation so beautifully promotes. I know they will carry the generosity they have been shown forward.

Thank you so much dear Uniting. We are blessed to have you supporting so many of us in the Community.

We have had one week back at Kinder for the year and are currently working on our sense of belonging to both our Kinder groups and the Kinder, St Luke’s as a whole. This year, we have introduced Japanese names to our Kinder groups as we are engaged in the Early Childhood Language Program, teaching Japanese.

To assist the children to learn these names, and to establish their sense of belonging, we have used our hands to create a group art project which includes a tree branch with blossoms for ‘Sakura’ (cherry blossom) group and a rainbow or ‘niji’ for our other group. This is on display in the Kinder room for all to enjoy.

Pets in the Park

The next Pets in the Park clinic is on 5 March 2022 at
10 Wendover Avenue Norlane. The vet clinic is a free pop-up service that provides preventative care for pets for people experiencing homelessness, such as sleeping rough, sleeping in cars, in crisis and transitional accommodation, couch surfing, or in caravan parks.

The vets provide: vaccinations, worm and flea treatments, microchipping, nail cutting and welfare checks. Clinics are held on the first Saturday of each month from 1pm to 3pm.

Referrals

Consumers are referred to Uniting Barwon from Geelong Office of Housing, Salvo Connect Entry Point, Salvo Connect Family Violence Private Rental Program, Haven Home Safe, Barwon Health, Uniting’s Emergency Relief Interviewers, Word of Mouth and Uniting Barwon Church Congregations.

For the month of December there were several Support Coordinators from NDIS agencies inquiring about housing options for their participants. There is also a growing trend of older people being homeless with several our clients aged between 50 and 70.

Good news stories

Amongst the homeless consumers who presented for assistance at the Norlane office in December 2021, one was provided with a tent, sleeping bag, food, pillow, solar light and was linked into Neami Toward Home Plus. A 40-year-old lady was provided with clothes, a suitcase, toiletries, a share the dignity handbag, food, and two nights emergency accommodation at the Colonial Motel was arranged.

Six night’s site fees at the El Dorado Caravan Park were paid for a 45-year-old male living in his car. He has a caravan, 2 dogs and no income and is paying off the caravan at $500 per fortnight but has no money left for site fees. His social worker is trying to fund him to stay at a Caravan Park in Lorne where he can get work.

A 64-year-old male, with his dog, had been evicted from the industrial shed he had been living in. As he has his own caravan, one week’s site fees were paid to help him relocate, as well as 2 petrol vouchers and a Coles voucher. He has been referred to Wintringham for housing.

A 62-year-old professional lady, with her 17-year-old dog, who had been living in her car for six nights, was offered accommodation for two nights at the Corio Bay Motel in a pet friendly room and then referred to and supported with moving into Ingenia Gardens Retirement Village. $600 was provided as part payment of $1524 for the rental bond loan. The consumer moved into permanent housing on Christmas Eve.

A 30-year-old woman who presented with only the clothes on her back and no shoes as she had been locked out of home by way of an IVO, was provided with clothes, a tent, sleeping bag, solar light, thermos, a share dignity handbag, food and referral to Haven for a shared room that was available at Smythe Place. She moved in and was taken to Encompass to purchase furniture, linen, and a kitchen package. She was so happy to have a roof over her head. With the support of Uniting Barwon she can now move forward and focus on getting her life on track.

U-learn

Thank you to everyone who has logged on to ULearn and commenced the training modules. A reminder for those of you who need an off-line version we have hard copies available for each site.

Uniting does not expect you to undertake training modules outside of your usual volunteer shifts or time commitment and we will continue to encourage you to complete the modules/reading within your regular shifts.

Help is available.

Contact the Volunteer Services help line by emailing volunteers@vt.uniting.org or phoning 0421 943 030 during business hours or ask your Team Leader or IT savvy fellow volunteers.

Local Feedback

Thanks to Carolyn Kerger from the Highton Op Shop for her feedback that the manual was interesting reading, especially the unconscious bias section.

Elizabeth Hopkin, Coordinator of Volunteers Barwon

Des Younghusband, Uniting Team Leader – Retail Barwon

Theone van der Merwe, Coordinator, Emergency Relief, Grovedale

Karen Mather, Coordinator, Emergency Relief, Norlane

Lyn Fitzgerald, Housing and Homelessness Worker Barwon

Emma Lane, Team Leader – St Luke’s Preschool

Spotlight on our community partners – Days for Girls Waurn Ponds

The Waurn Ponds Days for Girls chapter meets on a Wednesday fortnightly in the hall to sew reusable Femine Hygiene Products for women and girls for whom menstruation can be a barrier to participation in education and community life.  St Luke’s hosts them at no cost as part of our mission to the community.  Here’s an update from Deb, their co-ordinator:
“The kits our Team made this year and were picked up by World Vision Canada went to Burundi, Africa. This is a land locked country in the great Rift Valley bordering Rwanda.  I have a soft spot for for African countries as we spent 3 1/2 months travelling through parts of Africa in a Landrover Defender some 7 years ago now and although we did not travel to Burundi we did part of the Rift Valley so we were very close. (Only a centimeter or two on the map)!!  I am thrilled to think that our kits will be distributed there.
2021 has been another year that has had many challenges for so many of us, but we have still achieved some amazing things.  A quick summary of the year for DfGAL

  • Two new teams – Boort Vic, and Riverbend Qld
  • One new team in training, Bendigo Vic
  • Kits sent into the world for financial year 2020/2021 – 33,089 to 23 countries
  • Kits sent into world since 1 July 2021 until now – 23,332 to 14 countries this includes 17,075 to World Vision Canada for Burundi
  • Thanks to Ann Gobby we now have access to beautiful underwear and colourful PUL
  • Thanks to Lee Baker and the Camberwell Team, we can now have access to cut PUL for shields and carry pouches.
  • Regional Briefings in Queensland (Townsville, Allora, Brisbane) and Victoria (Gippsland and Mildura)

We are also helping to establish teams in the island nations around us, Baucau in Timor-Leste (nearly Gold Certified), West Timor (Gold Certified just this month), Solomon Islands, Kiribati these teams will join our FijiWest Team.  A big thank you to all the teams in these countries and a thank to all our Teams who are helping to mentor these Teams.

Our success is all thanks to all our amazing volunteers across the country and the world. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for what you do and also I want to thank all our amazing State Coordinators, State Sewing Specialists, our Board Members and other key volunteers who have stepped up to help us with our finances, child protection, training, resources, social media, communications, and our Liaison Officer who help us manage our distributions in PNG & Timor-Leste.

Our workshops for 2022 will resume on Wednesday January 19th, followed by February 2nd and 16th. I will let you know of further dates once they are finalized.  I will be at the January workshop and will then be away for the next three, back mid March. During that time Deb Chapman will be organizing the Workshops.”
If you would like to join the team in 2022, contact Deb via email: geelongwaurnpondsvic@daysforgirls.org