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A day volunteering in the Dining Hall - corporate volunteering

Hewison Private Wealth volunteers in their aprons ready for a Dining Hall shift

1 September 2017

By Kim Tillott - Hewison Private Wealth

On St Kilda Road huddled a team of seven staff members from Hewison Private Wealth ready to travel to Grey Street to ditch their suits and don hair nets for a good cause.

Our firm, Hewison Private Wealth, is a generous company which supports Sacred Heart Mission through its charitable arm, the Hewison Foundation. The organisation also allows all staff days off to volunteer at the Mission itself.

None of us had commercial kitchen experience except for one of our directors who spent his youth working at McDonalds…not quite the same thing!

It’s grounding and a great reality check

Once arriving at the Dining Hall, we found our feet quickly, thanks to the amazing kitchen staff.  One of the people we met, Jeannie, was a treasure – the perfect combination of patient, friendly and efficient. We were stunned to learn that Jeannie is a volunteer – and that the chefs are the only paid staff in the kitchen. The kitchen runs on blood, sweat and perhaps even a few tears – it’s truly incredible that the Meals Program is powered by dedicated volunteers, such as us, where more than 300 meals are prepared and served a day.

But I think I know why they do it week in, week out. It’s real. It’s grounding. And it’s a great reality check for those of us who lead a more comfortable life. I learnt the Meals Program provides hearty, nutritious meals to people who are homeless, socially disadvantaged and isolated. It is a program that does far more than feed people. It also provides opportunities for people to reconnect to and develop a sense of community and belonging.

For me it really helped to break down my preconceived ideas around homelessness and the people experiencing it. We spent the day washing dishes, peeling greens, cutting lemons, chopping carrots and clearing tables. I won’t deny it, it was hard work but it what an amazing experience. Volunteering in the Dining Hall was a wonderful and engaging experience that directly supports those facing hardship to continue.

The friendly vibe in the Dining Hall

The lunch patrons were welcoming, patient and extremely polite with our clumsy service and rookie errors. Their gratitude for what they receive was abundantly evident. What surprised me most of all was the friendly vibe in the Dining Hall – friends joined one another on tables and enjoyed a yarn and catch up. There was a real sense of community.  Thanks to the Sacred Heart clients who tolerated our service standards.

If you’ve got a spare day in your calendar, put your hand up to volunteer – it’s good to get out of your comfort zone every now and then. It takes a professional kitchen staff of four and a team of more than 20 volunteers to prepare breakfast and lunch each day.

The Meals Program runs seven days a week from 9.30am - 2pm.

Hewison Private Wealth is a Melbourne based independent financial advice firm. Their advisers are highly qualified wealth managers and superannuation / SMSF experts delivering tailored financial advice for over 30 years. 

More about corporate volunteering

Sacred Heart Mission acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal owners of country throughout Victoria and pays respects to them, their culture and their elders past, present and emerging.

Sacred Heart Mission has always aimed to be a place that embraces a sexuality and gender diverse community; everyone is welcome at our table and we believe a diverse community is good for everyone.
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