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The Three Amigos

The Three Amigos

13 July 2018

On Friday mornings, you’ll find Jeff McClean and Brian Dowling in the Dining Hall serving up 200 cups of coffee over the busy breakfast period.

Self-described ‘coffee-holics’, Brian and Jeff know the power of a cup of coffee to break the ice.

“You can do a lot in thirty seconds,” says Jeff. “Just greeting someone with a smile and a ‘how’re you going?’.”

“We just try to treat everyone with kindness,” Brian says. “It might be the only time some of them get a chance to speak with someone.”

Brian started nine years ago in our op shops, but gradually worked his way into our Dining Hall. In between, he worked across almost every facet of the organisation, including as a produce delivery driver and - perhaps most notably - as Father Christmas for two consecutive years, donning a red suit and white beard for the clients and staff.

Jeff, who is coming up to his 10th year at the Mission, began volunteering in the Dining Hall while he was still working at Monash University. He also spent some time as a volunteer clinical counselor at the Hands on Health clinic. Strangers before starting with the Mission, the pair are now great friends and try to handle every situation with good humour.

The Dining Hall was renovated five years ago, but back when Jeff and Brian started it had a separate breakfast bar.

“We were both part of the original breakfast crew,” Jeff says with a smile. “Over time I started making coffee. Then Brian started making coffee.”

They continued their barista duties during the renovations, despite being housed in the laundry for the duration. Now the pair are a regular Friday fixture behind the Dining Hall’s coffee machine, joined by another valued team member, Jimmy McGuane, otherwise known as ‘the third amigo’. Jimmy, who mans the bain marie area, comes all the way from Mt. Eliza each Friday morning to volunteer.

“The three of us, Brian, Jimmy and me, we’re all strong Richmond fans,” Jeff says. “I’ve actually known Jimmy since I was thirteen, we met in a Richmond cheer squad.”

Over the years, Brian and Jeff have gotten to know some of the people who come to our Dining Hall.

“We all enjoy our time there. It’s good fun and it’s rewarding,” Jeff says.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute,” Brian adds.

In the future, Brian is looking forward to volunteering with anything the Mission thinks he could help with, despite coming up to 85 years of age.

“I’m interested in anything they think I can handle,” he says.

Jeff adds, “If I can be half as good as Brian at his age, I’ll be happy.”

We would like to thank Brian and Jeff (and Jimmy) for their ongoing contribution to the Mission and all the good work they do in the Dining Hall.


Sacred Heart Mission respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we operate our services. We pay our respects to the ongoing living cultures of Aboriginal peoples, and to Elders past, present and future.
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