Eating burgers to support Many Rooms!

Posted by mhinze on May 12, 2016
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Local Matters Jars for May 2016 at QV Grill'd

Our thanks to Grill’d for their generous support of Many Rooms through their Local Matters community donation program.  During January, February and May, Many Rooms was selected to participate in Local Matters at several Grill’d locations in the Melbourne CBD.  Each jar was in support of a different Many Rooms project, and donations will be used to purchase items for The Library, our Food Packs project, women hygiene care packs, equipment needed for our ongoing work at The Friday Kitchen and Saturday Kitchen and to subsidise the Easter BBQ.

Grill'd Local Matters initiative

Every month each Grill’d restaurant donates $500 back into the community. Each community group represented has a jar. When you purchase a burger you are given a token to place into the jar representing the organisation you chose to support. Donations are split between 3 local community groups with the group with the most tokens at the end of the month receiving the largest donation.

Being on the jars has helped generate some extra support and boost funding for Many Rooms, as well as increase awareness in the local community about what we do.

Thank you to everyone who ate a burger to help support Many Rooms and our thanks to Grill’d for their ongoing support of our projects.

If I’m not giving, I’m not living: Judith Pallesen

Posted by mhinze on May 12, 2016
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After celebrating the first anniversary of Many Rooms’ Friday Kitchen, Judith Pallesen, the service’s co-ordinator, reflects on the past year and her journey with the organisation so far.

Judith celebrating the first anniversary of Many Rooms' Friday Kitchen

Volunteering and helping out has always been a big part of my life as my mother had disabilities. Many times I would be out with my mum and she would have a fall or difficulty breathing. We relied on the kindness and assistance of strangers in those times. Because of this, I grew up knowing the positive impact of a helping hand.

Volunteering became an essential part of my life. Having received a helping hand many times with my mum, I knew the value of it, and wanted to be that helping hand to others as often as I could.

I first met Many Rooms director Jim Davison when I happened to sit next to him while attending City On A Hill Church (west). Jim told me Many Rooms was expanding to include a Friday night Kitchen and would soon be looking for a coordinator.

I basically ‘stalked’ Many Rooms for several months after that, phoning and emailing to find out when the position description would be released. I applied for the job as soon as it came out, and my lifetime of volunteering experience helped me secure the role.

The ‘real deal’
During my first night at the Friday Kitchen, there were about 20 participants (those attending to receive a meal). It was so quiet and none of them wanted to talk to me! As the weeks progressed, however, the numbers slowly grew and the participants warmed up to me.

Today, we regularly have 45 to 50 participants each night. The room is always buzzing with conversation and participants often wave me over to come and chat with them. I count it as a true blessing that these people have let me into their lives.

In my first year at Many Rooms, I have seen the importance of persistence and commitment in building relationships. I have heard it said that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.  I have seen the truth of this in the past 14 months.

I remember one group of young ‘rough sleepers’ (those who sleep on the street) who attended the Friday Kitchen service. They really did not want anything to do with me, but each night that they came, I would take my meal and sit at their table. After ignoring me for about four weeks, they started asking me questions about my life and my Christian belief.

Now, it is all smiles and warm conversations. They are happy to share the struggles and frustrations of their daily life with me, and to hear what I have to say.

I recall another participant who was an older man and an Atheist. During the Bible talk and prayer that precedes each Kitchen service, he would usually wait outside the venue. However, after several weeks of saying hello and spending some time with him, I noticed he began coming early and staying in the room for the talk and prayer.

One night, I overheard him speaking to a friend he had brought along. “I don’t like it when people talk about the Bible, but I don’t mind it here,” he said. “This mob are the real deal.”

The Many Rooms volunteers are the amazing people who make us “the real deal”, giving up their time and energy to be a helping hand to those in need.

My favourite part of the night is when the meal is served and the volunteers pull up a chair alongside the participants. Sitting at a table sharing a good meal with good company in pleasant and safe surroundings is something that can be taken for granted.

For those sleeping rough or living alone, the Many Rooms Kitchens are a place to relax and enjoy the simple pleasure of good company and good food.

Community connections
An exciting and unexpected part of the role has been the connections made with local community through the volunteers. In sharing the work of Many Rooms with others, volunteers have been able to garner additional support from people who have wanted to offer help in their own way.

A local bakery made and donated a beautiful Easter cake. An accredited massage therapist came and gave shoulder massages to the rough sleepers. We have also received donations of hygiene products and food items from business owners.

It has been great working alongside Jim Davison during this first year, and being able to draw on his experience and knowledge. I am very thankful for the support and resources that come from City On A Hill Church and City of Melbourne.

But, it is the volunteers that are the power house. Without the heart and soul of the volunteers each week, it would be ‘just another meal’. With their input, it is a meal made and served with love, care and fun.

Many Rooms + volunteers + local community = giving and living

Feasting on books at The Kitchen

Posted by mhinze on October 28, 2015
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The Library

At our 6th anniversary in November, Many Rooms will officially launch a Library service at The Kitchen. Participants will be able to borrow books, magazines and DVDs and also have other literature to read at the drop in centre apart from just newspapers. In surveys we have conducted, participants have consistently nominated a library as something that they would value, and we have finally made this possible.

Many Rooms commissioned Chris Gillett, one of our regular participants at The Kitchen, to create
new shelving for the library.  They are ingeniously designed with a hinge so they can be drawn
together and locked when not in use.  Chris is presently homeless, living in a tent nearby in North
Melbourne, but is an experienced carpenter and joiner, and has set up his own workshop with his
other belongings in a storage facility in Kyneton.  YMCA have agreed to keep the shelves in the
Games room but the shelves are on wheels and so they can be rolled into the main dining hall if
needed.

Many Rooms commissioned Chris Gillett, one of our regular participants at The Kitchen, to create new shelving for the library.  They are ingeniously designed with a hinge so they can be drawn together and locked when not in use.  

library book shelves

Chris is presently homeless, living in a tent nearby in North Melbourne, but is an experienced carpenter and joiner, and has set up his own workshop with his other belongings in a storage facility in Kyneton.  YMCA have agreed to keep the shelves in the Games room but the shelves are on wheels and so they can be rolled into the main dining hall if needed.

We plan to provide a range of books – including Christian literature – to people at The Kitchen. We have already received donations of remaindered and second hand books from Koorong and Dymocks but need more.  We are in particular interested in books and magazines of interest to adult men and women.  Ideas include:

  • Magazines: relatively recent periodicals (previous year) – including general interest (e.g. Time or Who) or special interest (e.g sport, bikes, cars, model planes, music, Australian or national geographic)
  • Books: inspiring biographies, histories, novels, Christian literature, Chinese language books.
  • DVDs: comedies, dramas and documentaries, feature length movies and TV programs only G,PG or M rated and with no violence or pornographic content.

We also need volunteers to help run the library in keeping track of books and maintaining the collection. If you can help with either donations or volunteering, please contact Jim Davison (jimd@manyrooms.org.au).

Many Rooms participants cook up a storm

Posted by mhinze on October 28, 2015
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Many Rooms participants at Jamie's Ministry of Food Mobile Kitchen

Many Rooms has helped a number of participants learn more about healthy eating on a budget by sponsoring their enrolment at Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia.

Using Jamie Oliver hints, tips and recipes, Jamie’s Ministry of Food Mobile Kitchen delivers practical cooking classes in a five-week course to communities across metropolitan and regional Victoria, with the aim of educating, empowering and inspiring people to make better food choices.

“Many Rooms felt this was a valuable opportunity to help participants build skills and confidence, and to connect with other people,” explains Judith Pallesen, Kitchen Coordinator for Many Rooms’ Friday service.

“For the participants who are housed but that are on very low incomes, we hope it will encourage healthier eating. For those who are homeless, we hope it will inspire and encourage them to look forward to the day when they might be housed again.”

One of the Many Rooms participants, Chase, says he knew little about cooking prior to the course and that Jamie’s Ministry of Food Mobile Kitchen provided a friendly and cheerful environment in which to learn.

“Food can be expensive,” he says. “If you cook yourself, it can help economically. I usually cook noodles and fried rice. Now I know teriyaki salmon and how to cook eggs in different ways that are healthy and look good.”

Jamie's Ministry of Food Mobile Kitchen truck

Chase adds that he enjoyed being able to bring food home after each lesson, and the occasions when all the course participants dined together.

Peter, another Many Rooms participant, also enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people. “For the first couple of weeks I was nervous, but now I’m more confident in myself,” he says.

“At home, I go over the recipes and make them [myself]. I’ll probably make the spaghetti and meatballs I learned in the next couple of days.”

The Jamie’s Ministry of Food course has been a successful extension of Many Rooms’ mission to provide nutritious meals to the underprivileged while connecting them with the wider community and offering opportunities for self-development and personal growth.

Helping those in need beyond the Kitchen

Posted by mhinze on August 21, 2015
The Kitchen, Uncategorized / Comments Off
Judith Pallesen, Many Rooms Friday Kitchen Coordinator, with Anna Andersson, AMICA Program Coordinator

In line with its mission to help those in need, Many Rooms has extended its services beyond the Friday and Saturday Kitchens to offer essential items in the form of ‘care packs’ to homeless and marginalised women.

Many Rooms was established as a drop-in centre, providing not only breakfast and lunch for the homeless and disadvantaged people that visited its Kitchen every Saturday but also a safe space in which they could reconnect with the community.

In January this year, Many Rooms launched another Kitchen in Melbourne’s CBD that offered a dinner service on Friday nights, and it was here that Kitchen Coordinator Judith Pallesen noticed a significant gender ratio discrepancy, with only about three to five participants out of 35 attendees being female.

“Once I realised our meal services were not drawing in the women, I started asking three questions: Where are the women? Why don’t they attend the meal services? If a meal service is not helping them…what will?”

Judith began researching the matter, reaching out to a number of organisations that had been established with the specific purpose of helping homeless and marginalised women. Chief amongst the reasons was the fact that many of the women were victims of domestic violence and therefore might not feel safe venturing out to a drop-in centre for meals.

Wanting to serve these women without forcing them out of their comfort zone, Many Rooms devised a plan to develop care packs.

The hygiene care packs contain useful toiletries

.Caring and connecting

Two types of care packs would be made available – a hygiene pack and a food pack. The hygiene packs would contain a number of useful toiletries, such as razors, wet wipes, deodorant, lip balm, moisturiser, a hand towel, and feminine hygiene products. The food packs would contain healthy, portable items that would require no cooking and that could easily be eaten on the street, such as tuna and cracker packs, water, protein drinks, ready-to-go soups, trail mix and good quality muesli bars. Both types of care pack would contain information about Many Rooms. “We thought providing some care packs coupled with connection would be helpful,” Judith says.

She explains that the idea behind the care packs was to contact organisations that work exclusively with women in need and ask them to host a morning or afternoon tea. During the event, a Many Rooms representative would provide the women in attendance with information on the Kitchens’ meal services, present them each with a pack and then “simply chat”. “I don’t see the care packs as a ‘handout’,” Judith notes. “I see them as a gift.”

The first care packs were distributed on 13 August during the AMICA Women’s Lunch hosted by the Women’s Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE) and Judith is also in discussions with a number of other women’s organisations that could benefit from the new initiative.

How to help
Many Rooms will be forming a small volunteer group to help organise the care packs, with a meeting to be held on 29 August for those who may be interested in being involved. Donations of both relevant care pack items and money are also welcome – whether they be from an individual or from a corporate organisation. “We would love to have some sponsors, so if there are any members of the Many Rooms community that are connected to businesses that might like to support Many Rooms and the care pack initiative, let us know,” Judith says. She points out, however, that there are many other easy ways to help homeless women.
“The interesting thing is, most homeless women usually do not look homeless,” she says. “The women I have met go to great lengths to be clean and well dressed. This makes them less vulnerable to physical attacks, and attacks on their self esteem and character.
“If you encounter anyone homeless on the street, I encourage you to give.
– Give of your time: ask them how they are and what they need.
– Give everyday items: give them a current magazine, coffee, a sandwich.

“Building a person’s worth and letting them know you are interested in them can make them ‘feel a million bucks’, which often has more value than an actual ‘million bucks’.”

For more information or to get involved in the care packs initiative, please contact Friday Kitchen Coordinator Judith Pallesen (judithp@manyrooms.org.au)