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Williamstown Church of Christ

Helping Hand CafeThe Helping Hand Café provided disadvantaged people with a decent meal and an outlet to interact with others.

The Williamstown Church of Christ began a program in 2004 to provide disadvantaged people with one decent meal a week and an outlet to interact with others.

The church started out with eight people regularly showing up on Tuesday lunch time for a meal. The popularity grew, and at one stage, 57 people sat around the dinner table. So began the Church of Christ’s Helping Hand Café.

Many of the recipients suffered from isolation, a disability or other disadvantages. Many had a literacy problem. The church began its own adult literacy program in 2008, known as the Helping Hand Learning Project. But it needed funding to get it started.

The Church of Christ applied to the Hobsons Bay Community Fund for $3000 to start the literacy program but also to solve an emerging problem with the Helping Hand Café: more and more food from food banks was being provided frozen, so the church needed more freezer space to store it. The Hobsons Bay Community Fund saw the twin programs as great programs and granted the funding.

Church of Christ board of management member Barbara Johnson said the church looked about for a freezer and found it could get one from family electrical repair and seconds business Woolley Appliance Service in Deer Park at the best possible price. But manager Bruce Kilpatrick was so taken by the church’s program, he donated one for free. Ms Johnson said that meant the church had more money to spend on food.

Woolley Appliance Service owner Steve Woolley is now interested in ongoing support for the Helping Hand programs.

In its first year, the literacy program has also made big gains. A good example of the success of the Hobsons Bay Community Fund grant is a 25-year-old man who came to the church for the “big family meal” on Tuesdays. He could not read or write when he first joined the group. Now, through the Helping Hand Learning Project, he has learned basic reading and writing skills most Australians take for granted.

 

Australian Communities Foundation

Hobsons Bay Community Fund is a sub-fund of the Australian Communities Foundation. To visit the ACF website, click here.acf logo 2015

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