When 15 families registered to join a Family Group as a part of their local parish they had no idea where the journey would take them. Would they meet a few times only to have the novelty wear off or would it bloom into an amazing gathering that everyone would look forward to?
For the last 34 years the Shalom Family Group, as a part of the St Thomas More’s Parish Toowoomba has offered support, love and friendship to the members that comprise the group. Each family takes turns planning the social activity for the month, which showcases the interests and passions of each family and shares it with the others.
Retired Toowoomba Branch Coordinators and current volunteers, Jim & Fay Stein, said “The Family Group is amazing and has blessed us all with lasting friendships. They certainly have become family and are included in all our life events. The interesting thing about the concept is that when we gathered for our first meeting in 1987, we didn’t know each other.” The pair reminisced, “Our early years were like a Rosies outreach with children everywhere! We sometimes had more than 30 children plus parents and we met in the local parks many times so the kids could run around. Our youngest was 6 years old when we started and many of the friendships made between the children have stood the test of time and now they are in their 40’s and still love seeing each other.”
The friendships made through the Family Group are like the friendships made between our Rosies volunteers. The family group has been through school graduations, school sport events and school Boards, Parents and Friends events, important birthdays, engagements, weddings, births of grandchildren, baptisms and now they are beginning to farewell special friends at funerals. Some of the men golf together, the ladies sew for charity, some have travelled overseas together and everyone enjoyed the yearly camps, but most importantly they have supported and cared for each other through life events including serious illness and comforting each other in loss.
Of the importance of the group, Fay Stein said “It is an amazing group who have blessed our journey with so much and we continually support each other through the challenges and celebrations of our lives. We have welcomed many new members through the years and currently have 16 families who have a great time together.”
For the past three years, they have incorporated fundraising for Rosies into the monthly gathering to support the work we do in the local community. At a recent gathering John and Pauline Dwyer treated everyone to a fabulous feast of home cooked pizza in their wood fire oven. Of the afternoon Fay said, “John and Pauline are a beautiful couple – generous, compassionate and giving. They not only provided all of the food for the lunch but afterwards Pauline passed around a hat and every one of the families gifted Rosies with a donation. It provided us with a wonderful opportunity to do a presentation on the Rosies story and share how their donation would help those in need.”
The St Thomas More’s Shalom Family Group has supported Rosies in so many ways. Jim recalled with a huge smile on his face, “Rosies would not have had such a seamless move to our new hub at St Thomas More’s with all of our ‘junk’ without the help of our friends from this group. From packing for the week before the move, to actually moving everything, cleaning the cupboards at both venues, washing and vacuuming floors, packing everything in cupboards, putting up shelves and juggling many heavy items through the doors.” Jim continued, “The list for moving day was endless and we couldn’t have done it without them. They support the vision of Rosies and are always there to help when we need someone – all we have to do is ask!”
We are so grateful for communities like St Thomas More’s Shalom Family Group, they embody the spirit of Rosies and do us proud with their commitment to love and friendship. We could not be present for those in need without the encouragement, support and action of individuals like those involved in the Shalom Family Group. Thank you for your support of Jim & Fay and their work with Rosies – Friends on the Street.