Make do and mend

Category Archives: Volunteering

Make do and mend
17th October, 2018

Repair Café Katoomba

Get set to make do and mend at the second monthly Repair Café at Junction 142, Katoomba.

The inaugural Katoomba Repair Café, held on Saturday 15th September, was a huge success according to organiser Justin Morrissey of Toolo.

“People brought 27 items along to the Repair Café and more than 80% of the items were repaired successfully,” Justin says. “That’s over 200 kg of items not destined for landfill!”

“Ten enthusiastic, skilled volunteers assisted on the day, and the fundraising sausage sizzle, tea and coffee were a real hit.”

If you’d like to volunteer your skills for this Saturday 20th October contact Toolo at Toolo.blue@gmail.com

As an incentive, volunteer repairers will receive a free year’s membership with the Co-op (valued at $35) for their first Repair Café and volunteer points for time spent at the Repair Café on subsequent dates. If volunteers are already members of the Co-op they will receive volunteer points.

 

 

Spend 10 minutes with Rosa Del Ponte of Katoomba’s Earth Recovery, Food Rescue and Mountains Soul Kitchen.

It’s mid-morning at Earth Recovery in Katoomba and Rosa Del Ponte is doing the rounds of the supermarkets rescuing food bound for landfill. It’s a challenging job feeding the poverty stricken and homeless but Rosa can’t let it get her down, there are too many people counting on her to keep on keeping on.

Q: How long have you been involved with Earth Recovery, Food Rescue and Mountains Soul Kitchen?

Rosa: I started the organisation with five friends in 2012 and Christmas of that year we launched Mountains Soul Kitchen.

Q: What prompted you to start the organisation?

Rosa: My friend Sarah and I started Soul Kitchen as a result of our final project for a TAFE course. As part of an emergency relief study we went to 27 agencies from Lithgow to Penrith to speak to them about what services they offered. We were looking for a gap to fill and found it in the Soul Kitchen. Christmas and weekends were identified as times when services were lacking so it seemed to make sense to start with a trial then.

We worked under the auspices of Blue Mountains Family Support for the first few months and then we kicked off and were able to cover our own insurance and administration. We were originally based in the Civic Centre but rent became an issue because we were only running on donations, so we did a deal with the Uniting Church and moved to Junction 142.

Q: What is your background?

Rosa: My background is in film and TV production and PR. When I moved to the mountains I got a job at Planet Ark working on the National Tree Day campaign and discovered that I really liked the not-for-profit business model. It gave me an impetus for work in community services so I did a bit of volunteering and then took up a position at Muru Mittigar [Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre] as a business development manager. After that contract ended, I volunteered in neighbourhood centres. Providing free food for those in need was a big passion of mine and a niche that needed filling in the mountains but I couldn’t get traction anywhere, so we decided to start our own service.

Q: Where do you get food for Soul Kitchen and is it enough?

Rosa: Over the years, I’ve built face-to-face relationships with managers at local supermarkets to secure donations to Blue Mountains Food Rescue. And now that we are known in the community we get calls from other businesses also to come and collect food. We pretty well run out of food on a daily basis but we’re collecting daily and also get supplemented by Second Bite who deliver up to 1000 kilos of food every week from the Coles distribution centre in western Sydney. This lasts us a few days and is topped up by what we collect from Woolies, Coles, Aldi, the Co-op and local businesses.

Q: It sounds like a lot of food – is the need really that great?

Rosa: Yes. Absolutely. We distribute over 2000 kilos of food every week and there is very little waste. We have to sort through it and there’s the odd thing we can’t use but the vast majority of food collected is used. And if there is any waste it goes to the Community Gardens to be composted.

Q: How is the food distributed?

Rosa: Volunteers sort and pack boxes ready to be collected for distribution points and we also encourage individuals to come and pick what they need. We try not to be too officious and to give people a little bit of choice. It’s really important for people to know that it’s open, and it’s free. All we need is a first name and how many people you’re collecting for just so we can keep records of how much food we are distributing. For example, on any given day we know that if we’ve had 70 individuals visit, picking up for a mixture of families, couples and single households, we can add up how many people are being fed.

Distribution points are growing too. Community groups like the Anglicare Op-shop in Wentworth Falls and North Katoomba Community Hub collect food to distribute, and that means we can operate up and down the mountain – from Catholic Care Springwood up to Blackheath. We’ve recently heard that Mount Victoria school could do with some help so it’s just a matter of finding a volunteer who is willing to take that task on.

Q: How bad is homelessness in the mountains?

Rosa: Homelessness is more of a problem in spring and summer because it’s only the really tough who survive sleeping rough up here in the colder months. The lack of affordable single persons’ accommodation will be the next hit that we see in the mountains because the rental market is already pretty unaffordable if you’re on Centrelink benefits. I’m already seeing people not being able to get into housing – they can’t get rent assistance because Centrelink say they can’t afford the rent but what do they do – stay homeless? It’s a vicious cycle that nobody seems to think about.

Q: How can the community help?

Rosa: We want to spread the word about Soul Kitchen and Earth Recovery because I’m sure there are still people out there struggling who don’t know what we do. Almost daily, we get people saying “I didn’t know this place was here” and at least once a week somebody bursts into tears because they are overwhelmed with gratitude. And we always welcome volunteers.

Q: How can local businesses help?

Rosa: Any businesses that want to be involved can freeze meals at the end of the day and we can do a weekly collection. Then the food can be given as a meal to someone who is homeless or in temporary accommodation.

Q: When does Soul Kitchen operate?

Rosa: Soul Kitchen cooks lunch every Sunday and once a week we prepare meals that are frozen so people can take them home or heat them up here. It means people are getting a nutritious home-cooked meal and not something that’s been manufactured. I think that’s really important, especially when people are coping with financial stress, are homeless, or are living in temporary accommodation.

Q: How do you raise funds for Earth Recovery and Soul Kitchen?

Rosa: We’ve received a few grants over the years and a lot of community support. All the facilities are undergoing renovation and Rotary have been amazing. We have fundraising gigs at Junction 142 and we’re hoping to raise enough money to finish the upgrade of the Food Rescue Kitchen and complete work on the homeless facility at the rear of Junction 142.

For more information or to get involved go to earthrecovery.org.au

Giving back
15th August, 2018

The Co-op’s charitable donations are making a difference in the community.

Photo: Vigil outside the Windsor office of Macquarie MP, Susan Templeman, to mark five years detention on Manus and Nauru and 12 deaths.

End of financial year (EOFY) at the Co-op involves some serious number crunching, a bout of tedious auditing and the much more rewarding task of sharing a percentage of our profits. And while we regularly donate to various local community groups and social justice organisations throughout the year – including Katoomba Community Neighbourhood Centre, Mid Mountains Community Hub, Aboriginal Culture and Resource Centre, Earth Recovery/Food Rescue at Junction 142, and Blue Mountains Cancer Help – this financial year we were also able to make some extra donations to deserving local community groups.

Among them is the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group (BMRSG) which champions the rights of, and provides practical assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in western Sydney.

George Winston, Fundraising Coordinator at BMRSG, says the money received from the Co-op will be used to continue their vital work. “The Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group committee is hugely grateful for the cash donation from the Co-op which will help us to maintain 76 asylum seeker families in western Sydney,” Mr Winston says. “We help people with food, school supplies, medical costs, rent assistance and other essentials, so cash injections are crucial.”

Photo: Two ‘Nannas’ knitting at the Blue Mountains Music Festival to invite people to ask about the treatment of those seeking asylum.

There are currently 480 members of the BMRSG but Mr Winston says they are always looking for people who can donate skills, money and energy to the cause.

“Some of our members visit asylum seekers in western Sydney and detainees in Villawood Detention Centre. And we have a community and political advocacy group that works with schools and other organisations to increase awareness and influence politicians, so there are many ways to get involved,” he says.

To become a member or donate to the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group go to www.bmrsg.org.au or contact George Winston directly on funds@bmrsg.org,au or 0490 179347.

Child’s play

Another beneficiary was Katoomba North Public School who received a donation to help fund improvements to the playground. Principal, Cathy Clark, says the money was greatly appreciated. “The support of the Food Co-op means that together with P & C fundraising we will have sufficient money to grind protruding tree roots in the playground, spread mulch to make an even playing surface, and erect a cubby house,” she said.

This calendar year also saw the implementation of the Nourishing Families project at North Katoomba Community Hub. The brainchild of Prue Adams, former Marketing and Member Liaison Officer at the Co-op, Nourishing Families brought together Jackie Spolc from the Hub and holistic nutrition coach Danielle O’Donoghue to develop a program of community cooking classes aimed at educating participants in how to prepare tasty nutritious food. The four-term program, partly funded by a grant from the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (supported by Scenic World) and donations from local councillors, has been a great success to date and application for funding for next year’s project is underway.

Can we fix it?
15th August, 2018

Can we fix it? Yes we can, with your help! Toolo, the not-for-profit Katoomba Tool Library, is calling for volunteer repairers for the new Katoomba Repair Café.

Are you a Mr or Ms Fixit? Do you have mending skills you’d like to share with the community? Then we need you at Katoomba’s Repair Café.

Toolo  and the Blue Mountains Food Co-op are launching a Repair Café at Junction 142 in Katoomba on 15th September. Repair Cafés are non-monetary shopfronts for an international sustainability movement that is all about repairing damaged or broken household items that would otherwise end up in landfill. Repair Cafés offer communities the chance to learn how to mend clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, toys, computer equipment and more by providing tools, materials and volunteers with repair skills in all kinds of fields.

Just rewards

As incentive, volunteer repairers will receive a free years membership with the Co-op (valued at $35) for their first Repair Café and volunteer points for time spent at the Repair Café on subsequent dates. If volunteers are already members of the Co-op they will receive volunteer points.

To register your interest contact Toolo on toolo.blue@gmail.com

POSITION VACANT – Coordinator role

The Repair Café Mender Coordinator is a volunteer position whose main responsibility is to liaise directly with the volunteer menders from the community, provide them with rostered shifts, provide an orientation and safety induction, and collect and file volunteer paperwork. The Repair Café Mender Coordinator should be familiar with basic computer skills, such as Google Drive, Microsoft Word and Excel spreadsheets. This volunteer position is for approximately 8 hours per month and entitles the successful candidate to free membership of the Blue Mountains Food Co-op, valued at $35 (or volunteer points if already a member) and full membership to the Blue Mountains Tool Library valued at $99. To apply contact Toolo on toolo.blue@gmail.com.

 

 

 

SHOP SMARTER, EAT HEALTHIER AND SAVE MONEY AT THE CO-OP – BECOME A VOLUNTEER!
23rd July, 2013

The Co-op wouldn’t be what it is today without the efforts of many enthusiastic volunteers over the years.  We are always so grateful and appreciative of the time people put into helping out in the shop and at Cleaning Bees.  Our shop is an incredibly busy and dynamic place, and we can always use some extra help to ensure things run smoothly and efficiently.

We are about to embark on a new system of training volunteers, so that when you come in for a shift you know exactly what to do and how to do it.  We will be holding volunteer induction and training evenings twice a month from May onwards.  These evenings will provide an opportunity for new volunteers to learn all about how they can help out in the shop, but we’d also love to further the training of our more experienced volunteers so that they can work with as much self-direction as possible.

  • On a day to day basis volunteers help with:Keeping the Co-op clean, tidy and organised
  • Looking after the garden and outside the store
  • Helping customers get their shopping to their car
  • General filling and keeping everything topped up

But we’d also like to know if you have any special skills you could offer, such as;

  • Handy person
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Desktop publishing
  • Research
  • Newsletter contributions
  • PR, marketing, promotion
  • Graphic design
  • Filing / office skills
  • Events co-ordination
  • Gardening
  • Sewing
  • Cooking – for staff meetings and events
  • Community classes that might benefit staff (eg. Yoga, pilates, tai chi)
  • Screen printing

In exchange for only 4 hours volunteer work in a calendar month, you can receive an extra 20% off your shopping up to a total of $250.

Interested in getting involved? Speak to a staff member, or contact volunteers@bmfoodcoop.org.au

COLLETTE AVERY

NEW FACES AT THE CO-OP 2013
16th July, 2013

There a few new faces at the Co-op. Since November we have gained two new directors,  Cathy Cavanagh and Gren Olsen who is our treasurer. Susan J, Maeve  and our old  schoolie Sam have joined the Co-op as relief workers and Leanne has recently come on board as a new permnanent part-time worker. We also have three new schoolies – Olivia, Cory and our latest addition Felix.

We welcome them all and hope they enjoy being part of the Co-op community!

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