Rev. Bill Crews' spring message

by Rev. Bill Crews 17 Aug 2020
Sometimes it feels like nothing changes for decades, then decades of change happen all at once. I’m sure the coronavirus pandemic has made you feel like that, so imagine how the poor and the homeless must feel. Many of the support services they relied on closed. Thankfully, your generosity enabled my Foundation to give extra care.

In a whirlwind of change, my Foundation has been a haven of stability for the most vulnerable and needy. Not only did we stay open, but we’re feeding and caring for more people than ever.

Those in need are always welcome

As it happened, we were well prepared. Over the past few years we had been slowly and methodically adjusting the way we did things to care for more people. It meant that when the pandemic hit we were better placed than most to cope. In fact, we were able to adapt to the changes right away.

The first thing we had to do was close our iconic Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurant. For the first time in 30 years it became a takeaway service only.

Later we transitioned to a dine-in service for our most vulnerable guests, but sadly I had to close the restaurant once more after COVID-19 outbreaks were reported close to Ashfield. In spite of it all, the other day one of our guests mouthed the words “thank you” across the socially distanced restaurant. I shouted a “God bless” back at them. It’s very moving for me.

At the height of the pandemic many of our homeless guests were put into hotels. Alas, they’ve since been put back on the cold streets where they came from. Thanks to your support we’ve cared for these people too. Our food vans have been distributing even more takeaway meals to rough sleepers in the city as well as out-of-work battlers in the outer-western suburbs of Sydney. In these troubled times those meals have saved thousands from going hungry.

I’m proud to tell you that in spite of the pandemic the quality and preparation of our meals has not deteriorated. Indeed it has improved, as our regular chefs have been joined by other chefs - helping out until their own workplaces reopened. We’ve set a new standard which we are determined to keep!

More families are turning to us for help

I’m sure you can imagine how many families are now struggling to put food on the table. Thanks to your support we’ve been able to give food parcels to even more of them. One family, a single father and his small son, come regularly to collect a food parcel. Every time the little boy sees me he thanks me from the bottom of his heart.

Another young family who now rely on us have three children. Dad lost his job and can’t find another one. Mum is struggling with the little ones who don’t understand the changes in their world. It’s heartbreaking and I’d give them the world if I could, but all I can offer is a food parcel and some comforting words.

All the while we’ve maintained good sanitisation practices and adhered to strict social distancing rules. Staying distant from our homeless guests has been especially difficult for me. I used to give them a hug and ask how they were, but now I have to be mindful of their health. Many have chronic medical conditions, which means our duty of care is paramount.

We're ready to feed even more people in the future

In addition to all I’ve told you, I want to share my thoughts on the future. The experts tell us that we’re going to have to live with the coronavirus for some time. Sadly, many of those who rely on my Foundation will shoulder a disproportionate economic burden. Indeed, as unemployment begins to bite I fear we will be inundated by waves of desperately needy Australians, many of whom may never have needed our help before.

That’s why I’m asking for your help. I’ve explained how our agility enabled my Foundation to quickly adapt to the changing world, but now we have to prepare for what’s next. Increasing unemployment will bring spikes in poverty, but with your ongoing generosity me and my team can help with meals, care and support.

I understand you must be concerned about your own future, but I ask you to spare a thought for those who are far less fortunate. You can give a rough sleeper a meal, or put food on the table of a hungry family by making a donation today. So please give generously and together we can make their future better.

God bless,
Rev. Bill Crews