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Hawkesbury Hope Centre a 'dream' come true

Hawkesbury Hope Centre a 'dream' come true

Hawkesbury Hope Centre a 'dream' come true

By Lauren Martin

Empowering people to serve is one of the hallmarks of a thriving #salvoschurchlife, and this was powerfully evident at the launch of the Hawkesbury Hope Centre last week.

When Communities of Hope Coordinator, Major Bryce Davies, arrived at the launch of the new Hawkesbury Salvation Army Hope Centre in Sydney’s north-west, he expected the usual pomp and ceremony of a Salvos “grand opening”. What he got was the added warmth and excitement of a community of people who had been “saved to serve”, so to speak.

“The bloke who served me coffee, the woman who runs the community market, they’re people who have been helped out of their crisis and given the love and support to feel like they belong and the empowerment to realise that they can contribute,” said Major Davies. “This is the Kingdom of God expressing itself in The Salvation Army in Hawkesbury; how brilliant!”

The Hawkesbury Hope Centre was born from a dream. A God-inspired one.

The centre’s coordinator, Kim Taylor, kept having the same dream night after night. In it, she kept seeing the faces of three local women whom she knew had kids at the nearby primary school. She knew she needed to reach out to these women but her days as a working mum were already so full, she just didn’t know how.

Not long earlier, she and her only volunteer, Diane, began a weekly food service to assist the many families in their community who struggle to make ends meet. On Monday mornings, the women would drive to Foodbank to pick up the free and low-cost food for the Tuesday ministry. Troubled by her recurring dream, Kim asked Diane to stay longer one Monday afternoon so that they could put a selection of the produce out on a table in front of Hawkesbury Salvation Army to offer to parents and carers who were walking past on their way home from school pick-up.

That very first Monday, the three women from Kim’s dream came up to the table and were assisted with fruit and vegetables.

“That was a God thing,” Kim said. “At the beginning [of the ministry] it was just Di and I. Now there is a whole team. People will come!

“And this is how you connect with them. Not by banging the Bible over their head but by putting out something that they need – fresh fruit and veggies – and connecting with them that way. Any Salvo church out there who thinks, ‘we just don’t have the people for this, we just can’t do this’, you can! It will grow and then the people [who volunteer] will grow, God will provide.”

The Hawkesbury Hope Centre now provides financial counselling, case work, food hampers, a free fruit-and-vegetable program for all, advocacy, a listening ear, support and a safe place for anyone to visit. It's Hope@Expresso coffee, tea and cake café is also open three days a week.

“Our biggest aim is to offer a place for people to come to feel supported and safe. Once they’re here we can chat with them and work out what their struggle is,” she says. “Whether that be deep financial hardship where we need to work with them, with their housing situation, maybe schooling, their utilities, whatever it is we can work with them in a really holistic way.”

Members of Hawkesbury City Council and other local service providers were also present at the launch. They told Major Davies that the local Salvos had hearts “as big as Phar Lap’s” and that they love partnering with them to help people in need.

Chris from the StreetMed Homeless Support Team said, “The Salvation Army are very non-judgmental, they always have very open hearts and open hands ... and there’s nothing that’s too much trouble for them.”

Kaylene from Platform Youth Services, agreed, saying that the Salvos planted “that seed of hope that other people have taken away. Whether it sprouts right there and then, or two months down the track, who knows?”

One initiative that came out of interactions on the launch day was the plan to develop a partnership between local youth service providers, the Hawkesbury Salvation Army Hope Centre and The Salvation Army’s Communities of Hope Coffee and Pie van. Young people connected to the youth services will learn barista and hospitality skills at the Hawkesbury Hope Centre café, Hope@Expresso, then be offered paid work through the coffee and pie van when it secures bookings for local events.

“To actually run a coffee van social enterprise out of Hawkesbury Communities of Hope based from their café that does training for people and gives them skill sets so that they can go into a coffee van and know what to do, is actually a good model that I think could work.

“So I think that was an exciting development from the day as well.”

Bryce Davies talks to Chris from Streetmed and Kaylene from Platform Youth Services about the impact of the Hawkesbury Salvos in the community.

Over the next few months, every Sunday, Others will feature different areas where #salvoschurchlife is thriving and ask why. Please, show us what your #salvoschurchlife looks like by posting a photo to on a public Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page using the hashtag #salvoschurchlife or tell us your story by emailing: others@aus.salvationarmy.org

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