The queue for a hot meal at my Foundation stretched onto the street yesterday morning. I glanced down the line; it was a conflagration of hard luck stories born of brutal economic times.
Indeed it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that each individual has their own tale to tell. So I always try to focus on the person in front of me, whomever they are and whatever reason fate brought them to us.
As I stood there, someone grabbed my hand and held it tightly. It was a frail old lady. She was staring at me through tear-filled eyes. “I would have gone hungry today if it wasn’t for you”, she said. Heaven only knows how she wound up in a food queue like ours.
Nonetheless I led her into our Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurant for a much appreciated meal and a heart-to-heart. Thanks to your support, the Restaurant was in full swing. The hungry were pouring through the doors for a nutritious, hot brekky. Many of them I knew, and so I made time to talk to them as well. Their stories are all unique but their need is much the same. Beyond the nourishment we provide, they crave caring and kindness - don’t we all?
Thankfully, my team of wonderful volunteers specialise in kindness. Not only do they tirelessly prepare the food, but they make sure all our guests feel acknowledged. In fact, that morning the whole atmosphere in the Restaurant was one of friendliness, warmth, and happiness. Perfect.
Your support feeds the hungry
Back in the kitchen the chefs continued chopping, dicing and cooking food for the more than 1,600 meals we’d serve that day. I navigated around boxes of produce to reach the ovens which were full of roasted vegetables. Their delicious aroma filled the kitchen, and in an instant steam from a hot dishwasher did too!
Just outside the kitchen our 5 food vans were being loaded. Soon they’d be off, taking our freshly prepared meals to the hungry at 17 different locations across Sydney.
Alongside the car park is what we like to call our Hang Out Hall. As you might expect, it’s a place our guests can call home - after all, most of them don’t have a home of their own. There’s internet and telephones so they can talk to loved ones. As well as services like support groups, a clothing pool and even toiletries. For those who need more care, our Health & Wellbeing Centre has doctors, nurses, podiatrists and dentists, not to mention free counselling, financial and legal advice.
Sometimes the person in front of us is ready for a fresh start. That’s why we run the Crews Cafe. It’s where we train people in hospitality. By midmorning when I arrived at the Cafe it was buzzing. Indeed, it was full of customers talking happily over their coffee. They looked so friendly I couldn’t stop myself saying hello to everyone. Behind the counter the servers were in-training. Eventually they’ll get a TAFE qualification in hospitality.
Reading programs give a fresh start
They weren’t the only ones getting a fresh start. Up the road underprivileged kids were learning to read in our Education Hub. Other children were in Play Therapy; a gentle, child-centered intervention that helps youngsters who may have experienced traumatic events in their lives.
This was a typical morning at my Rev. Bill Crews Foundation. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the work that’s being done here; not to mention our expanded reach. We also have three more Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurants in other locations around Sydney. As well as literacy programs in the Northern Territory.
No matter where it is, our work is driven by the person in front of us – the individual. When we change the life of that person, the whole World changes for them!
However, to make that change I need your help. That’s why I’m asking you to give. Your donation enables us to do more than just nourish and care, it enables the betterment of lives, little by little, one person at a time. So please, donate generously.
Rev. Bill Crews