Dealing with the rigours of completing Year 12 would be considered more than enough for most teenagers to deal with, but Joshua Priestly isn’t your average teenager.

At a time when many students are rightly focused solely on their studies, Joshua selflessly pushed himself to the limits to help people who are homeless in his hometown of Mareeba.

In May, Joshua spent three days pushing a wheelbarrow 140km to help raise funds for Rosies Mareeba branch.

What makes the feat even more admirable is that he completed the Great Wheelbarrow Race solo – when many compete in a team.

The St Stephens Catholic School captain said Rosies was a perfect fit for his fundraising campaign.
“Rosies helps Mareeba youth and is associated with the church, so I thought it was the best charity to support,” he said.

Rosies General Manager Andrew O’Brien said the organisation was impressed with Joshua’s initiative.

“It is encouraging to see young people take such a strong interest in lending a hand to those in the community who have found themselves on the fringes,” he said.

Joshua raised over $1600.

On Wednesday nights at the entrance to Woodridge railway station, Rosies volunteers arrive to the eager faces of patrons from every continent bar Antarctica.

Ruby, from her wheelchair, tells Andrew he must be a new volunteer because she hasn’t seen his face before.

Robbie, from the local Islamic temple turns up with home cooked meals for about 20 patrons.
New Rosies Chaplain Fr John David (recently arrived from India) joins Robbie as they engage with Sri Lankan, Iranian and other refugees.

Fr John speaks Tamil easily which facilitates some animated conversation.

Ed tunefully fills the backdrop with a variety of harmonica solos, and cheerfully tells a tale in spite of now being on his own and not in the best of health.

The Street Doctor (a Bangladeshi migrant) and his nurse (a delightful young Somalian woman) tend professionally and happily to an array of patients who would otherwise be reluctant to seek medical attention.

A young woman from Caboolture, looking rather lost, couldn’t believe the service on offer.

‘We have 216 nationalities in Logan,’ Logan branch coordinator Margaret Harvey says proudly, ‘and many of them are represented among our patrons and of our volunteer ranks.

‘The diversity ensures its never a dull moment.’

Yet it would be easy to get subsumed in the general camaraderie.

The dangers are obvious for some of the more vulnerable and we pray they have the strength to stand their ground.

The bond of our volunteer teams no doubt gives them hope.

New South Wales native, regular Rosies patron and new volunteer Hayley holds the work of the organisation in very high esteem.

‘It’s a meeting place for people in the community, to catch up with friends and to make new ones over a coffee and a bite to eat.’

Hayley, 35, moved to Cairns just over a year ago to get a new start and heard about Rosies through church.

She attends nearly every night and has been volunteering for two months.

‘I love helping other people – those who cannot afford to pay their rent, food or power bills.’

She says the volunteers are kind and friendly and everyone wants Rosies to stay.

‘It’s a pleasure to work here. It’s great, I love it!’

She says that other patrons are proud that she is a volunteer.

Animal lover Hayley plans to volunteer some more, aims to become a Team Leader and encourage other patrons to join.

She would eventually like to find other ways to help in the community.