Building Community through Fresh Bread Deliveries

A weekly drop off to local Amélie Housing residents by members of Mary MacKillop Conference is building a rapport that is about much more than bread and cakes. Members are using the opportunity to reduce residents’ social isolation and see who might need additional support.

Members of Mary MacKillop Conference in Greater Western Sydney Central Council have been busy making sure that residents of Heather Place in Katoomba get fresh bread each week. Heather Place is one of Amélie Housing’s social and affordable housing developments, providing local people doing it tough with safe and secure housing.

Every Saturday afternoon for the last six months, Conference Members have collected bread, cakes and pastries from the local Bakers Delight store and delivered them to Heather Place residents.

This weekly exchange has allowed residents and members to get to know each other, as residents take the opportunity to stop and have a chat with members as they pick up their bread.

A wonderful rapport has developed between members and residents, leading to other positive outcomes. ‘While the bread is gratefully received, the time spent sharing is even more valuable’ says Conference President Russell Smith. ‘As Pope Francis said, “almsgiving is occasional; mutual sharing…is enduring”’.

Members have now come to know over a dozen residents in a lovely exchange that is about much more than bread and cakes!

The deliveries have also led to the building of a strong sense of community among residents themselves. After the visit, a couple of residents take any remaining bread and distribute it to residents who missed out on the conference members’ visit, so that no-one misses out.

Russell says that the weekly visits were also valuable when COVID-19 restrictions were impacting conference operation, because members could update the residents on how to access Society assistance should they need it.

The positive relationships that have emerged go beyond members and residents. In December, Site Coordinator, Karen Ryan, invited conference members to a Christmas coffee morning with the residents. Members caught up with the friends they had already made and met others they hadn’t previously visited with. The coffee morning gave members an opportunity to invite residents to collect a Christmas hamper. Eight families received hampers, ensuring they didn’t miss out on the Christmas goodies many of us take for granted.

Of the initiative, Russell says ‘it has been with small steps over a period of months, but a relationship has been established between conference members and the residents of Heather Place. In this, we hope that we act in the spirit of Frederic Ozanam who said, “help honours when to the bread that nourishes, it adds the visit that consoles, the advice that enlightens, the friendly shake of the hand that lifts up the sinking courage”’.

If your conference has an Amélie Housing development nearby and you would like to offer the hand of friendship to residents, send an email to anne.stanfield@vinnies.org.au.

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