It was a simple suggestion from Backpack Beds that drew Eunice Winship to Rosies – Friends on the Street in Cairns.
A group she belonged to was looking for an approved organisation to distribute some backpack beds they’d purchased for homeless people living in Cairns and the supplier suggested Rosies.
Peter & Eunice Winship
“Of course, I asked, ‘Who is Rosies?’ and the rest is history,” she said.
What some may consider a random occurrence, Eunice knew that it was the Holy Spirit that called her to Rosies. She and her husband, Peter, joined the organisation in 2021 as outreach team members and in August that year became team leaders.
Volunteering with Rosies has become an extension of her faith.
“I have been in ministry for 26 years of my professional life with my church, the Seventh-Day Adventist faith. Ministry or serving others is my heart and Rosies has become an extension of that ministry,” Eunice said.
“There is nothing like volunteering, it is so fulfilling and good for the soul. You connect with so many people of all walks of life; donors, volunteers, and of course our patrons, who are the main aim of Rosies mission.
“Making our patrons feel valued, loved and belonging to a community that thinks of them and their circumstances, not as a separation from society, but rather embrace them as part of family at large and support them unconditionally.”
Prior to joining Rosies, Eunice served the disadvantaged in Cairns in other ways.
“During one of our home group meetings we watched a video of missions overseas and one of our young members was inspired to help people locally,” she said.
“A 12-year-old girl wanted to feed the homeless for her birthday. None of us had experienced feeding the homeless, and we decided as a group to cook meals and hand them out.
“We were novices, and really didn’t know what we were doing, but went ahead in prayer and faith, and cooked 15 meals each and went directly to the Cairns esplanade looking for people in need.
“With the help of the community, we gave away all our meals away – it felt great, but our group decided that we needed to do more.”
There are many people who want to help those who are struggling, especially now when homelessness, disadvantage, and social isolation are more visible than they have ever been before. It’s when these people come together to help others that magic happens.
Eunice said Rosies had been going strong in Cairns for more than three decades, so they had a lot of regulars. But each night they were seeing more new faces and their outreaches were serving more and more people.
“New faces means we need more volunteers and I see many different types of people answering the call to join Rosies,” she said.
“For some like me, Rosies is an extension of their faith. For others, they just want to help but I believe that God calls each one of us to a purpose in life and if we respond to that calling, you are never the same again.
“The entire experience is transforming. Regardless of what your background may be the Lord will sustain you, guide you and most of all give you wisdom, knowledge and understanding on how to fulfill His purpose in your life.
“You just have to believe, have faith in Him, trust in Him and this is what makes the journey so very exciting. Jeremiah 29:11; says For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future. And the Lord has definitely proven that to me, many, many times over.”
While not all of the individuals that volunteer with Rosies have a background in faith, the acts of service they perform on outreach put the teaching of Jesus Christ in action and transform patrons lives. The simple act of acknowledgement, sharing friendship and a hot meal can do so much for someone’s physical and mental health.
Since taking over as Branch Coordinator in March 2022, Eunice and Peter have altered the way outreaches operate.
Rosies chief executive officer Jayne Shallcross said branches operated based on the specific needs of their community – Cairns provided a full meal service which was vastly different from what other locations offer.
“Eunice and Peter have created a wonderful community feel at outreach so that from the outside looking in you’d think that it was just a group of friends or family enjoying a meal together,” she said.
Rosies was founded in the spirit and charism of the Oblate of Mary Immaculate, an order of the Catholic Church. While the organisation remains deeply tied to its history, all faith bases are welcome to volunteer or attend outreach. Rosies is a non-preaching outreach, but the Rosies prayer remains firmly at the heart of the organization, with volunteers reciting it together before and after each outreach.
Eunice believes the prayer is what sets Rosies apart from its peers.
“The key to Rosies existence is the Rosies Friendship Prayer. This prayer speaks of our Lord and Saviour, who transforms our lives daily to become more like Him in our humanness as we interact and communicate with each other daily. A good reminder especially in times like these,” she said.
“On outreach we provide patrons with practical things like food, hygiene items, blankets, etc but we also provide emotional and spiritual assistance. Showing love, kindness, compassion this is how I minister to our patrons and to the volunteers. I believe that Rosies is not only the hands and feet of Jesus, but also His voice. I pray and hope that those connected to Rosies experience this in whatever way is best for them.”
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