I want to thank you for the support you’ve given my Foundation. It has enabled us to feed more hungry people than at any time in our 37-year history. In fact, we now serve 1,600 meals every day – that’s up 400% on pre-pandemic levels. We’ve also grown our fleet of food vans from 2 to 5 and we have three Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurants. This Easter the pressure on our food services continues to increase.
Giving more than just a meal
Feeding the hungry is critically important, but I’m determined to do more than just treat the symptoms of disadvantage. My vision has always been to break the poverty cycle as well. I believe one of the best ways of doing that is by educating disadvantaged children.
Indeed, literacy is fundamental to that vision. That became abundantly clear to me when I discovered lots of the homeless youth who came to us for food could not read.
The future for these young people was bleak. Without literacy they couldn’t get a proper job. Consequently, I established a literacy program for the poorest kids in the poorest schools. It was designed to give children the skills they needed to flourish in class, and ultimately get a job. Since then over 3,000 children have been taught to read in our program.
Today our literacy program operates in New South Wales and the Northern Territory. It has a remarkable success rate, lifting the reading age of 60% of students by at least 7 months in just one semester. Some kids even get a 2 year leap in their reading age over the semester!
A better future for children
It’s a remarkable intervention and it changes lives, but it is not enough. Some children also require specialised care to deal with trauma that has invaded their lives. So we also provide a program known as Play Therapy. This is a gentle, child-centered intervention that helps children who may have experienced things like grief and loss, abuse or domestic violence. The therapy uses a child’s natural language of play to help them make sense of their difficult experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
I’m proud to tell you that this program is achieving remarkable results. It is helping to give children a better future. I’m also determined to do more to help the adults who come to us for a free meal. I’m sure you can appreciate that their problems may be deeply entrenched, sometimes involving addiction.
Here at my Foundation we have programs to help them too. A team of professionals offer gentle one-on-one assistance, as well as group support, for all stages of recovery.
Recently, a lady in our program celebrated one year of sobriety. It was a huge milestone for her and a harbinger of better things to come. “You know Bill”, she said, “for the first time I can smell the roses, I can feel the breeze, I can hear the birds and I can see the sky.” The world was anew for her!
It’s this sort of work that brings new life to people in need. It may not be headline-grabbing, but it is nonetheless important. What’s more, your support makes it happen.
The whole world changes for every child we teach to read and for every person we lead out of addiction. I guess you could say we are changing the world, one person at a time! It’s powerful stuff and it surely embodies the spirit of Easter.
However, I need your support to keep making that change. Which is why I’m asking you to make a very special donation this Easter. You can give the gift of new life by donating today.
Rev. Bill Crews