Community right next door

Diesel & Sheryl on outreach

Sheryl, a 68-year-old retired assistant nurse, found community and connection when Rosies moved in next door. “Once I retired from aged care nursing, I got a bit lonely and was looking for a regular social outing – Rosies operates in the park next to my house in Harlaxton and I thought I would pop over and see what it was all about,” Sheryl said.

Sheryl was unsure about what to expect from her first outreach, but the volunteers made her feel right at home. “The volunteers are so welcoming, greeting everyone by name and making sure everyone feels accepted. There are many different types of people who attend outreach from lots of different cultures and the volunteers and the neighborhood itself embraces us all.”

Sheryl has a unique understanding of what many of the patrons who visit Rosies have gone through because she has also experienced hardship. In a previous life, Sheryl was married to a prosperous grain grower and was able to send all of her children to private schools, but then the drought came, and her family lost everything. She suffered a relationship breakdown and really struggled to make ends meet. “I didn’t have enough money for food even though I was working two jobs because I was funneling every penny into caring for one of my children who became addicted to drugs. I didn’t know about Rosies then, but the support would have been a great help for me. You never think it will happen to you, but anything can happen to anyone at any time,” Sheryl recalled.

While Sheryl found Rosies later in life, she really enjoys meeting the young people that attend outreach. “There are a lot of children and young people that attend outreach; the volunteers are so good with them, especially the refugee families. They play basketball with the kids, remember all their names, and give them lots of attention – they (the kids) start showing up at about 3.30 just waiting for the Rosies van to show up.” Sheryl continued “a lot of the kids that come to Rosies don’t expect much from life, but the Rosies volunteers make them feel special. Rosies always makes sure that the kids get to celebrate the holidays like Easter and Christmas – the look on the kids’ faces when they are given a gift is just wonderful, they just light up and can’t believe that someone is just giving them something for free.”

Sheryl also enjoys chatting with the many school students who attend outreach as a part of our School Engagement Program (SEP). “I always impress upon them the importance of education because no matter how strong your family ties are, you never know how things can change. I think it’s really important for young people to experience and speak to people who have had different experiences than what they have.”

Sheryl continued “They need to look at the reality of life and really look and acknowledge the people around them and realise that anything can happen. No matter how privileged their life has been, they could need Rosies one day. The people that come to Rosies are people just like them.”

Sheryl is a patron of Rosies, but she also carries the spirit and mission of Rosies in her heart. Each Wednesday Rosies operates a BBQ to help ease some of the financial pressures on those who attend and ensure that those who are homeless can have a hot meal. Sheryl always takes an extra plate from the BBQ to her neighbour who is too unwell to attend, “I like to bring a plate over and chat to them – make sure they know that there are others who care for them and want to make sure they are OK.”

Sheryl said she was so grateful for the friendships she’d made through Rosies but was especially grateful for the presence of Rosies in her community. “I’ve lived amongst all types of people in various places and when I first moved to Harlaxton, I thought it was a rough area, but it’s not. It’s a beautiful vibrant community, a melting pot of different nations. Rosies picked the perfect place to set up shop – they really help people who need love and acceptance.”

Sheryl continued, “There would be quite a few people who would be upset if we didn’t have Rosies. They give you so much support and they listen to you and what you have to tell them. They really do want to make a difference in your life.”