Hi, I’m Bernie the Polite Girl, I was born in Holland, moved to Australia when I was 28 years old, and loved the country ever since.
I have not always noticed the homeless, and used to walk past, like so many. I did not give them much thought. This all changed when a good friend of mine, Tom, introduced me to Grant the Polite Guy. I bought a Big Issue off him, we had a chat and chatted some more, and we became friends. Grant opened my eyes to the plight of the homeless and from then on I wanted to help and get involved hands-on.
The first time I helped homeless people was with one of Grant’s BBQs. I handed out many flyers in the Valley beforehand and talked with many of the homeless at the BBQ on the day. I noticed their joy getting clothes that other people had thrown out and I noticed how selfless and un-greedy many of them were in their concern for others. Really, there is a lot to be learnt by people who have much more worldly stuff. One conversation stood out for me that day. One guy kept separate from the others. While I was sitting on the floor with him he told me his life story. His emotion - brought about by simply being listened to and by the chance to share his story - affected me in a way I had not experienced before: I did not know his name, he did not know mine, we had never met before and would most likely never meet again, yet there was a very honest connection and I knew that helping the homeless was a good thing to be doing.
I experienced firsthand that these homeless people were people like everyone else. The only difference was that perhaps they had less opportunities or more bad luck than everyone else. Their hopes and dreams had been the same. When they were asked as children what they wanted to be when they grew up, homeless was never the answer. Of course I would always have known all that but didn’t realize it, because of course I had always been too preoccupied to give the issue serious thought. Until I met Grant. I decided I would never walk past with blinkers on again. I learned there is a lot of meaning in doing a “Pie and Coke” even if it turns out to be a burger and a Pepsi, perhaps not in the first place because of the food and drink, but because the other person feels acknowledged as a human being. A small, simple thing to do and a big thing at the same time.
This nickname of Bernie the Polite Girl was generously given to me by Grant because he noted that when dealing with people I show a lot of politeness, or respect for the other person like he does. I am proud of the fact that Grant sees this in me, and therefore I am wearing the title and t-shirt with pride. One thing Grant loves to say to me is “I wish you could see what I see, because you have so much potential to help people and if you could see what I see you would know that.” Yes, perhaps I don’t see it quite as clearly in me as he does, and perhaps I am not as comfortable writing it, but I do know that Grant sees through a lot of crap and outside stuff right to the heart and soul of things, so who am I to dispute that :-)
Grant and I have banded together to help many and to think up ways of helping in the present and in the future. We decided to start this new blog as a team so that you will get two people sharing their experiences and ideas. We believe we work well as a team, so here’s to us, to our new blog, and to you - our readers. Cheers!
Written by Bernie the Polite Girl