St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga
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Christmas 2015 at the Dish

As usual, the folk at The Dish have been very much thought of by the wider community. Plans have been underway for months: St. Patrick’s Asquith Children’s Choir have been preparing their repertoire of songs to share with our friends on the Tuesday before Christmas when their Church folk were preparing and serving the meal. Some of the Staff of Pymble Ladies’ College were spending their final day at School filling 25 bags with gifts bestowed on us over the year, supplemented by the PLC staff as well – wrapping them and preparing cards for each bag – labelled according to it being for a man or woman, and according to size (of person!).

Staff at Central Finance Management Group approached The Dish some time ago to offer help: they provided hot Christmas Pudding and custard on the day, and as well, many presents – items of clothing and necessaries – to go in the bags prepared by PLC Staff. For some years now the Inner Wheel of North Sydney Rotary Club have been sending up many presents for inclusion into the bags of treats. Thanks to all of these people for their caring for those in need.

The menu was organised weeks in advance as both Janet’s and Alison’s families were to be out of Sydney this Christmas. A Wahroonga family together with a Cathedral family were prepared to be responsible for the Shift supervision and serving. This was marvellous – terrific food: many courses – just like yours at home – and finishing with a bag of goodies for each one there. All the food was fabulous! Home-made Christmas pudding and custard – to die for!

As well, (as if this wasn’t enough already!!) the customers of Bendigo Bank participated in helping by surrounding their Bank’s Christmas Tree with gifts. These were dispatched on Christmas Day.

Alison Stewart

(Sorry, it took me a long time to get around to posting this – Chris)

Recent news of The Dish

Thanks to Alison Stewart for this update:

It is a while since a report was written about activities of The Dish Van. Quite a few new things have happened. Let me bring you up to date:

Hornsby Baptist Church have a team of cooks who prepared the meal earlier this month for our friends who come to share a meal each Friday. Manning the serving of the meal was another team from the Baptist Church at Hornsby – one of whom has been serving since he was in Year 11 at Normanhurst Boys’ High School. They will all be helping on a regular basis. This is great!

Turramurra Uniting Church has been preparing meals and serving at The Dish on the first Friday of the month for almost ten years – shortly after the activity commenced. This gives the organisers at St. John’s a break away from being “on hand” each week. To have other churches of the area taking on this task is a wonderful way for this activity to be shared by the whole community.

St. Phillip’s Anglican Church, South Turramurra, has a number of men who are also prepared to take on the task of driving the Van to Hornsby, on a rostered basis, to share the load of transporting the meals to serving.

Members of other churches and organisations are represented in those who form the team of volunteers who are rostered to serve each week. To all of these people and organisations we say “Thank you” for the continued help and enthusiasm you all have to continue this community support work.

Last weekend, after news of the death of a woman in Hornsby near the Great North Walk Track, The Dish was inundated in response to a Facebook page put up by one, Pauline, who had offered to help clothe, make warm, these folk who are sleeping rough or are cold with not enough warmth this extremely cold winter. North Shore Mums overwhelmed us with the goods that were brought to the Church. Janet and Alison were helped by Mel from St. Phillip’s to sort through everything. The generosity of local Mums was amazing. Many more “Thank you’s” are needed! Our storage area, in the Van and at the Church were soon filled. Tinned food was put aside so that we can distribute it each Friday we go to serve, women’s and men’s clothing was sorted and stored, then the remainder has been taken to St. Vincent de Paul at Hornsby. Each day needy folk come in to St. Vincent de Paul to get goods, clothing for themselves. This supply will help benefit those in need. There has been a wonderful response to this need this winter. The folk at the Store were delighted with the goods. The folk who receive them will be even more delighted.

Christmas 2014 at The Dish

Christmas 2014 was another great time for our friends at The Dish. Christmas gifts from many sources (both organisations and individuals) were handed out at most of the gatherings during December – with schools preparing over the months before. A Year 8 student from a Wahroonga family offered to put together the hampers for Friday’s session on Boxing Day.

As part of his Duke of Edinburgh Service of the Bronze Division he spent one day gathering items from our store of gifts, allocating items for each recipient, others specially wrapped by members of the North Sydney Inner Wheel. Individual cards for each person were written and included in their pack. A photo of our friends receiving their gifts shows their appreciation! Canned food, gathered from Bendigo Bank’s Turramurra branch were included in these packs, as well as hygiene bags including necessities.

Festive food of turkey, ham and plum pudding with custard and ice cream topped their Christmas meal.

The Dish has now been operating for eleven years and the numbers that come for a meal have increased. Over ten persons have been housed by Housing New South Wales this year within and without the Hornsby area, following two “Meet and Greet” sessions for morning tea/lunch held in Hornsby and Brooklyn Parks respectively. Some of the folk of those areas have learnt of the presence of The Dish here in Hornsby and are now regular visitors for a meal.

We are indebted to many, many people for their support in keeping this community project running.

Christmas at the Dish

At The Dish, this Christmas, St. Leo’s served Christmas meal on Christmas Eve. Thank you to this team of keen and enthusiastic parents and some pupils, organised by Connie, who were glad to prepare and serve the dinner. Christmas ham was carved in situ at the Van! Shepherd’s Pie, Tandoori chicken, lasagne and roast vegetables accompanied the fine fare. Plum pudding and custard were appreciated for dessert.

Festive red bags of gifts were prepared by University students, Jess and Laura, from donations of goods and gifts that had come in throughout the year. Mimi, and members of the Pennant Hills Probus Club had given cash to cover the purchase of extras for the bags; Helen had bought bags of cookies from Mister Cookie Man – so that each of our friends had something to eat for a treat! Sian and her children had prepared gifts; her husband had provided puddings; North Sydney Rotary Club’s Inner Wheel provided an assortment of wrapped gifts and others to be wrapped – items of clothing and necessities. Others had sent in their items and toiletries from overseas travel – sometimes from Business of First Class treats – even pyjamas!! These all added to the fun in store for our friends when they received and unpacked their “goodies”.

Each year in the bundles necessities are included; these were given by other families and merchants in Wahroonga.

Another highlight were the cards and letters prepared by the pupils in one of the Year 5 classes of Waitara Public School. Each pupil wrote a thoughtful message to be given to each one of those who came to share in Christmas this year at The Dish. Some prepared fun cards – items of humour and thoughts of care were expressed by these youngsters – wishing our friends well.

All of these items added to the wonderful spirit of Christmas that was present on that special eve. Tige and his team of volunteers servers presented the food prepared by Sue, Val and Betty later in the week; Victoria gave us a ham which Sue glazed for serving. This continued the festivities into the New Year period.

We thank all those who thought of, gave time, money, gifts and items to be included with the bags of goods. We thank those who prepared the bags, who cooked the food and served it at that special time.

This was a special blessing to all who received during that week.

Women’s Homelessness Forum

The Hornsby Homelessness Task Force is part of a community project to set up a Women’s Shelter in the Hornsby / Ku-ring-gai area. There is a community forum on Thursday December 5th, at 5:30pm, at the Hornsby Council Chambers. Visit their website for more information.

Christmas at the Dish

Lots of activities at St. John’s stop over the summer, but the need for the fellowship and food provided by the Dish doesn’t take a break. Alison sent me this report on the great work done by so many members of the wider community who chose to generously give their time at such a busy time of year…

For our friends at The Dish preparations for Christmas began some time ago. We are so fortunate that so many people of the community are aware of the meals that volunteers serve from The Dish each week to those in Hornsby who come for a meal and companionship.

Children of Waitara Primary School from one Year 6 class had made boxes in which to put cakes of soap; as well, each child in the class made a bracelet of woven silk, for each of those who came at Christmas.

A Wahroonga family contacted The Dish, via the internet, to say that they wanted to do something for our friends at Christmas. There was a mountain of things to do; one way that was envisaged that this family could help us was for them to pack the Christmas hampers. North Sydney Inner Wheel had supplied us with presents – necessities, individually wrapped and labelled. The Wesley Cooks had made Rocky Road, Christmas cakes and other treats. Others had given more gifts. A firm of Consultants at Pymble sent us some new shirts for presents.

One couple, again making contact through the internet – the web-site – gave us a donation as their grandchildren were not coming this year and hence they were not buying a Christmas tree. The money for the tree was given to us – we purchased gifts to supplement those already received so that all folk were able to have a fair share of the bounty!

What excitement when the family had put the bounty into colourful Christmas Gift bags. Cards written by hand, by the children in the family, were attached lovingly to each bag. It was a delight to see. Joy was certainly a by-product of this giving.

St. Leo’s served traditional Christmas Dinner on Tuesday, 25th, and presented to those who came personal hygiene packs which they had prepared for each one who came.

All these gifts will be given to anyone who has not yet received one, as the come over the next weeks. Over twenty folk have already been the recipients of these gifts. It has been a bounteous Christmas for all!

The Dish Christmas

Alison wrote the following piece about Christmas at the Dish, and I thought it should be shared more widely!

Eighteen friends joined us in the Park last evening for our Christmas gathering.
Janet had organised a fabulous Christmas meal of Soup, Turkey, Cranberry sauce, Ham & mustard, roast vegetables, peas, individual Puddings and custard or Mango ice cream – a great thrill for many! – tea, coffee and cordial.

A real treat was the presence of some of the choir from Mt Colah Uniting Church. These folk came with Wendy Robinson, who has been coming to The Dish with the purpose of research for University work. After mains, carol singing took place. It was a happy time for all. Keyboard and percussion were there as well! There were even requests: “Amazing Grace”. After “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” Santa, in different forms came: Bags prepared by Abbotsleigh, Kathy Tobin’s Year 9 class; Bags of goodies put together by Turramurra H.S. prefect group, contents of which were supplied by Prouille’s staff/parents; Christmas cakes and shortbread made by Wesley Cooks; Presents given by North Sydney Inner Wheel were distributed.

All the time the presents were being distributed the keyboard gently played.
It was a moving experience, especially when one of our friends said “My family are in W.A. – this is like my family – this is my Christmas”!

So many people contributed to this heart warming occasion.

Thank you all so much.

The Dish on Tuesdays

It is now over six years that The Dish of St. John’s has been serving, from the back of a Van, a meal to folk at Hornsby who come for the food and the company each week. This month marks a wonderful new step forward in outreach to the needy of Hornsby as the Van now goes out each Tuesday evening, thanks to a collaboration amongst the local schools of Wahroonga.

This initiative, going out on another evening, was led by Phil Ledlin of Prouille School Wahroonga. Each Tuesday a different primary school in Wahroonga sends volunteers from their school – staff and/ or parents – to prepare and serve the three course meal. Numbers are increasing and certainly the extra evening has been most welcomed by those who share the meal. The participating schools are Prouille, St. Leo’s, Wahroonga Preparatory School, St. Lucy’s, Abbotsleigh and St. Edmund’s. Knox Preparatory has already been providing food for serving throughout the school terms this year.

This service from the Primary School Community of Wahroonga is a fabulous way in which the children of each school see how their teachers and parents are helping others in the wider community, by cooking and serving meals to those who might otherwise do without. There is a friendship and spirit of community fostered throughout the group – both with the volunteer helpers and those who come each week.

We have the support of the St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army as well as the Police as we proceed with this service. It is most fulfilling for all those involved.

Recent developments at The Dish

Over the past term those who we serve meals to, as well as the preparers and servers, have been delighted with the great variety and inspirational meals prepared by the parents of Year 3 Knox Preparatory students. This is an innovation inspired by the teachers of the students, as part of their Social Justice Program, which extends throughout the school. We, at The Dish, have been most thankful for the variety provided and generosity of the families – it has been heart warming to see the keen and eager faces of the boys as they bring their food to the Van.

The Dish Kitchen

Last year our ‘more than a soup van’, The Dish, was fortunate to receive a grant from the Community Grants Scheme. These funds have been used to equip an area under the stage to house basic kitchen and storage facilities. This means that there is now a central area from which we can dispense food for the meals and the goods that we store before we give them out to the folk in need of them. Thanks to the NSW State Government for their support, and to Judy Hopwood and Barry O’Farrell who encouraged us to make the application and have taken a personal interest in the work of The Dish.