Every Friday Caboolture Branch Coordinator, Helen Mangano, would take the Rosies van to its outreach location where patrons would be waiting. “They’d cheer us as we got out of the van,” she said.
“That’s all the recognition I need to see that Rosies is wanted and appreciated and for me, that’s great.”
Helen, who retired from her role as the Caboolture branch coordinator after 16 years of service, said because she’d been volunteering on outreach for so long, she knew many of the returning patrons.
She joined the Rosies team after the Catholic parish she worked in became involved with the charity, giving it a local headquarters.
“I didn’t have any experience, but they asked me to be the outreach coordinator, so I gave it a go and I’ve been with them ever since,” she said.
Mrs Mangano praised the team she worked with, acknowledging without their hard work and determination, the branch would not have been as successful as it was.
“The team leaders and the team at Caboolture have been together for a long time. Everyone knows what to do, they just slip straight in and didn’t really need to be managed too much, everyone was just great,” she said.
Those memories would be ones she would take with her, now she had retired and moved on to work in another industry.
“One of the things I loved doing and did often was go to schools and talk about what Rosies does with the kids,” she said.
While she visited the schools to raise awareness, Mrs Mangano said she would also accept donations.
“St Benedict’s Primary in particular was one school where every year their Year 6 students would make hygiene packs. They’d donate toothbrushes, toothpaste and other things like that, and they’d organise to have a day where they packed them all up before handing them over to us. Our vans would be absolutely bursting full of these care packs, it was amazing,” she said.
Another instance was a group of Year 6 girls organising a movie and pizza night that raised $700.
“It’s just amazing to see young kids coming through with the drive to be able to help the homeless,” she said.
While she is retiring from volunteering, Mrs Mangano said she will always treasure her time with Rosies and encourages other members of the community to volunteer.
“You just need to go in with an open mind and a friendly ear, listen to the patrons and listen to their stories. Don’t be judgmental – once you have their trust, they will become your friends. They just want someone to be there for them,” she said.
“From my perspective, having volunteers involved in the organisation is the only way that they can exist. So, step out of your comfort zone and just give it a go.”
On behalf of our patrons, volunteers, members, board and head office staff we would like to thank Helen for her many years of service and for opening her heart and offering friendship to those in need.