Sunday, November 18, 2012

Family in Caravan Park and Christmas BBQ - an Update

Where to start when there is so much to say… I haven't figured out yet how to rotate photos on the blog, so my apologies, you will have to tilt your heads... Am working on it! Three stories in one post, here we go.

First of all, a massive thank you to those generous people who offered to help the family in the caravan park whom I wrote about in my last blog post. Help ranged from monetary donations right through to an offer to share accommodation. This family has experienced how much other people believe in them, and they too believe now that they can turn things around. They have determination, hope for the future, and smiles on their faces. The guy is looking to find work. Just great.

Here’s an example of people’s generosity and compassion for total strangers. I received an email from Kathy, a lady who read my blog post. Because she lives in New South Wales she could not give any pots, pans, or anything else that was on our list of much needed items. However, she did want to help this family build a better future. She generously donated money so on her behalf we could buy some of the basics the family was so in need of.

The Polite Team don’t like to waste any time, so the next day (Thursday) we took the couple shopping. They were so excited and headed straight for the kitchen department. The guy is the cook in the family, has a passion for cooking, and with no hesitation he picked a slow cooker first. Then they went on to carefully choose a set of two cutting boards, a masher, and a set of containers. We chucked in a bag of mixed nuts as a little gift. They were so grateful for the goodness of others who they would probably never meet but who donated money and therewith told them they believed in them. Nothing could wipe the smiles off their faces, I tell ya, and they were very proud to have their photo taken for this blog. The girl said several times that she was so happy she just wanted to give us something too, but she didn’t have anything. But really, the smiles on their faces was all we wanted to see, and what more could we wish for than for them to do well, and I told her so. We do have a dinner invitation for the future in our pocket though J And I could report to Kathy how her money was spent and how happy the family were. Thank you, Kathy!

After shopping with the couple, I got in the car with Mick and Garry with posters on my mind and in my bag, while Grant went to work on another project. Mick, Garry and I covered part of the North side distributing posters for our Christmas BBQ to homeless centres, lodges and hostels. Garry had a 6-page list of accommodation for the homeless, but surely with his mind-boggling knowledge he knew a few places that had not made it to the list!

Many thanks to Garry, who gave up his lunch hour rush to be our guide and who, apart from knowledge, also had a photographic map in his head so we could cover all places efficiently without driving back and forth. Without Garry we would not have covered so many places in one afternoon and include a little lunch break as well. And many thanks to Mick, for driving us tirelessly, making some last-minute, James-Bond-like turn-offs safely, and waiting patiently while Garry and I visited the accommodation places, introduced ourselves and left posters. Thank you both so much for giving your afternoon. And thank you, Grant, for your care, and for calling in several times to see if everything was alright.

And an awesome and hands-on afternoon it was! It was good to see what a whopping number of rooms there is for homeless people to rent, but overwhelming and sad to know that despite all these many places there are still way too few available for all the homeless people or, although rundown, they are too expensive to afford. We went to major homeless accommodation centres like Pindari and the Three Mansions, to places like Roma House, and to smaller lodges that don’t all have names. Without exception we were welcomed very warmly, and staff everywhere was keen to display our poster and encourage their residents/clients to attend the BBQ.

Kym, who works at either the Three Mansions or at Roma House (sorry, I visited so many places I don’t remember exactly) very kindly offered to place our poster in their newsletter if I could send her an electronic version. Deal, easily done! She gave me her card, and she works for Queensland Shelter. Garry, knowledgeable as he is, told me their newsletter goes out every Monday, and we are so excited to know that the notification of our event will reach that many more people because of Kym’s goodness. Thank you, Kym!

With Garry and Mick, gearing up to cover homeless accommodation places on the North side.

Handing out posters with Garry. This was at the 139 Club in the Valley.

The BBQ itself is going to be GREAT AND BIG and seems to get bigger by the day believe it or not! BBQs have never been this big before. We have so much interest of people wanting to contribute, such wonderful input from expected and unexpected corners, so much good will. Truly, Christmas has come very early for the Polite Team in that sense, as we already get to enjoy the Christmas spirit (and I am generously passing it on here, haha). Christmas is going to be spectacular for so many people this year, because they have either the warm feeling of selflessly having done something really good for others, or the warm feeling of knowing that people care about them enough to donate clothes, shoes, toiletries, toys, the list goes on. No one who comes to the BBQ will need to leave empty-handed.

Let me tell you about the latest contribution. Happened yesterday morning. Grant had a lovely day off, and asked me to call a lady who had called him and who had a massive (and I do mean MASSIVE) amount of shoes to get rid of in a hurry. She had collected them to donate and would keep collecting for the next two weeks – until the BBQ. I called this lady and she was very happy and relieved for the shoes to go to our BBQ. I organized pick-up with Lee (thank you, Lee!), and we will have the shoes in storage until the event. Helps the lady empty her limited storage space and makes space for her to collect more shoes between now and the BBQ J

As Grant said in his blog post, we need $1,500 to cover costs. To date, we have received $120. He suggested if 30 people donate $50 that would be the amount covered. However, smaller amounts are of course very welcome too, and get even more people involved in giving. The idea is that this is a community event, by the community for the community. If you do want to donate, there is a donate button on the right side of the blog, towards the top. Feel free to use that button, or contact us. Grant will write a thank-you post when all the money has been received.

Thank you all for reading, and have a great day!

Written by Bernie the Polite Girl from the Polite Team

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Too Big, Need Help Please

Most people that know me say “Grant you do a great thing!” To tell you the truth I feel guilty sometimes because, well yes I am always trying to help but I couldn’t do it without the help of everyone else coming together as a community. Just to give you an idea I’m going to mention a wonder just wonder person Kitty Art (Facebook name)

Kitty Art Helps with our Facebook events page!/events/493716907326056/501990626498684/?notif_t=event_mall_reply now when I say helps I mean she started it and keeps it running. A lot of people know I’m not good with computers and really don’t like them that much. Face to face in person is much better and personal. Ha ha.

I’m famous for doing my ‘Pie and Coke’ were I buy a homeless person a meal and just sit and listen while they eat. I give them a mate to talk too and also sometimes help them to get on their feet but just talking. When their ready to get on their feet I’m there waiting with my ‘Pie and Coke’ to help.

Kiity Art called me and I told her I needed help with my phone (Yes it’s like a computer, haha). Right away Kitty Art asks me to meet her and starts working on it. Soon later we are walking to the best pie shop in Brisbane to get pies and coke for ourselves Kitty Art pays and then puts a $100 on store credit so I can do my ‘Pie and Coke’ more often. You see up until now I have always paid for the meals from working as a Big Issue seller.

Now I must say I did celebrate by doing ‘Pies and Cokes’ for 5 homeless people in 2 days already. One thing I do know and that’s, my calling is to help people in need when they need it most and one thing that’s for sure, I couldn’t have done it over the last 2 days without Kitty's help because I didn’t make enough money to do so.

So please when you think I do a lot of good for the homeless please think of people with a huge heart like Kitty Art Because I do.


Now I know a lot of you know about my BBQ’s for the homeless and people in need. But just in case I’m going to recap on what we do, because I need help.

Homeless and people in need come to the BBQ event were all the food and drinks are free and there’s tables and tables of clothes, toiletries, kids toys, blankets/sleeping bags and much more are given free with only one condition and that’s “If they can carry it it’s free” 

Here at these events it’s the community coming together to help, I ask thousands of people to donate clothes and everything needed for it. So when I say it’s the community coming together to help I’m right because it’s where I get everything.

Now the benefits of this event is we get clothes and everything needed to help the homeless while looking for the ones that want to get on their feet. That’s when I do my best work because I’ll help someone get on their feet with everything I have or can get hold of.

But I guess one of the most important things about these BBQ’s is you have working people sitting down eating and talking to a homeless person eating and both chatting. Trust me when I say some rubs off and the homeless starts to really feel more a part of society. Well that’s be aim.

Next event:
Musgrave Park
2nd of December
10am to 2pm

Now to mention a minor problem. These BBQ’s are getting a lot bigger than before and even though we have Dalton Hospitality helping with cost we need around $1500 more to pay for more food and drinks. I guess 1000 homeless eat and drink a lot. Ha ha. Now I must say I thought of asking one or two people to try and pay this than I thought why should one or two people pay so much when there’s so many people willing to help and feel good that they are doing something so great.

So I’m thinking if 30 people donate $50 then we will have the $1500 needed and it’ll be even more like the community is coming together to help. Now I know $50 is a lot of money but really look what we are going to do with it.

There’s even more of a need for people to come on the day and help out now because there’s going to be that many more homeless.

Now I have a donation button on this blog if easier, but please mention that your donation is for BBQ. I work the city most weekdays at Post Office Square on Queens St if people want to hand to me or on the 30th of Nov I’m collecting whatever clothes, toiletries, blankets/sleeping bags, tin food, anything people want to donate and of course money for the extra food and things that come up on the day.

I’d like to thank everyone for reading this blog and I hope you all have a great day, remember on the 2nd of Dec at Musgrave Park there’s a great BBQ to help people in need when they need it most. So please come and help out on the day and show the community coming together.

I would like to add that any monies left over will be going towards getting a Christmas Ball which we will put a homeless person’s name on it and hand out on the day.

Grant the Polite Guy from The Polite Team
0412 190 011

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pie and Coke Buzz and call for help

This afternoon Grant and I were in the city to do our Pie and Coke as the Polite Team, and in Post Office Square Park we stumbled upon this young couple who were homeless last week. We shared some pies and a sausage roll with them, and checked in to see how they were doing. Between last week and now they had found temporary accommodation, and they had moved in there just a few days ago. The Polite Team were very excited to hear they had gotten on their feet in a sense, and seeing people get on their feet is one of the most inspirational things to witness. They now live in a caravan in a caravan park in one of the suburbs. Not the best caravan park around (and that is an understatement!), and not the crim-safest caravan park either (again, an understatement) but considering what they have to pay in rent you would think it was. With the homeless it is known as a quite famous – or infamous! – caravan park. The only benefit it has over other places of similar rental prices is that no bond is required when you move in, which makes it attractive for people who, like most homeless people, can’t afford to pay bond. In return, it puts the price up. Most homeless people also can’t afford the high rent in the long term either, so they are often only able to stay there for a short while. It's a population of people who are constantly coming and going.

This couple have a four and a half year old little one, and the way the caravan park was described to me, I could understand they did not want her there for too long, and paying the rent long-term would be an issue. So whichever way you turn it, they will not stay there for long. The dodgy caravan park is the first step out of homelessness for this family, a roof over their heads, they are doing better than they have been, and are on to better things. On to better things fast, I hope. They deserve it.

The Polite Team were able to help them out with a much-needed pair of pants, a jacket and a blanket this afternoon, taken from our secret stash of donations for the BBQ, and their visible joy and the smiles on their faces were so rewarding. I felt privileged to be able to pick up a rather fancy looking quilt/cushion from our stash and hand it to them. You can use it as a cushion, but when zipped open it turns into a quilt. They were so happy it felt like Christmas for both them and me. I pointed out the word “cosy” on the package of the quilt and we had the giggles together.

As Grant was away for a little while to get the jacket for the guy, the girl told me he had given her the shoes she was wearing. The shoes she had before were too little and hurt her feet, and then Grant got her the current shoes and they were so comfortable. Perfect for her. Since she walked so much it made all the difference. For me, this story was a touching little aside. 

They were a very nice couple to meet. We gave them ten bucks to top up their Go Cards. They were most grateful and generously offered  their ten-dollar voucher from Woolworth in exchange, which gave us another glimpse of who they were as people. We politely declined the vouchers, and were happy to see later on that they spent them on food.

This little family has moved from place to place and then became homeless, and in the process they lost everything they had; it’s very easy to lose things when you’re constantly moving and when you have no home to keep your things safe.

This family are in urgent need of some basics:

kitchen utensils
pots and pans
tea towels
bath towels
double-bed sheets

Anyone interested in donating any of these things to this family, please drop off to Grant at Post Office Square tomorrow Tuesday 13 November between 7:00 and 8:45AM, or Wednesday 14 November between 7:00AM and 2:00PM.

We talked to the couple about the BBQ – they had already heard about it. Woohoo, the word about the BBQ is already spreading quite nicely! Wait till we start promoting it :-) They are wanting to come and we are looking forward to seeing them there; we advised them to bring big bags :-)

Please note that for the BBQ (Sunday 2 December) we need clothes in all sizes from baby clothes right up to XXXL, shoes, toiletries (including nail clippers), back packs, children’s toys. Canned foods are very welcome too. Although donations can be delivered prior to Friday 30th, the main drop-off day for any donations would be Friday 30 November between 7:00AM and 2:00PM – please drop off to Grant at Post Office Square or to Keith at Buffed Shoe Shining Service in the foyer of the BOQ Building, 259 Queen Street.

Our next blog post is not far away – watch this space and have a great day everyone!

Written by Bernie the Polite Girl from the Polite Team

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Polite Team Part 2

Reading Grant’s latest blog post “The Polite Team”, I have to admit I was very silent for a while there, being moved by the very kind things he has been writing about me (no swell head here, I can assure you!). I know he is pissing in my pocket just a little bit because of course I was going to read his post (haha), but I do know he thinks very highly of me and that is an absolute honour, because if such high praises come from someone as honest as Grant, you gotta treasure it.

Grant has done so much helping homeless people and others in need, and although I have helped many people in other capacities as well, teaming up with him has been an honour and a delight and an inspiration, and talking with the people I help with him or by myself has been heart-warming. A very enriching experience, very different and in very different settings from my other helping roles. Working with Grant’s network is a very refreshing way of working with others to help people.

I do realize Grant has been doing BBQs and things by himself for a long time and has built a large network of people who help him out with what is needed. The people I have personally met so far have all been incredibly nice and friendly. However I know that some people may not like that Grant has teamed up with me as The Polite Team but really, as Grant said, all that matters is the people that are helped. There are no changes in that regard, except that Grant now shares the load with me and like he said, if one of us isn’t around the other can still help. The BBQs will continue to exist, the only difference is that Grant and I rather than Grant on his own will put them together. I hope all you helpers out there will continue to help and I am looking forward to meeting you all if I haven’t already. I have met some of you and it has been great. So many wonderful people out there!

Now, speaking of helpers, this BBQ that we are going to have on Sunday 2 December promises to be spectacular. The Polite Team is looking forward to a very special and memorable Christmas BBQ. If anyone is looking how to help, we do still need soft drinks and marquees for the event. Although it can be done earlier as well, Friday 30 November is the main day to drop off clothes, toiletries and other donations to Grant at Post Office Square or to Keith from Buffed Shoe Shining Service inside the BOQ building, 259 Queen Street, preferably between 7-9AM but we will be collecting until 2PM. For any news about the BBQ watch this space.


I’d like to share this little story with you, because it made the day livelier for a few people. I was in the city the other day and bumped into a tall man (let’s call him Joe) who carried along something of colourful making. It was a big colourful face, made of different kinds and colours of paper which, so I heard later, was a piñata: a Mexican type of container for toys or candy. I don’t know if Joe was homeless or if he just spent a lot of time on the street, and I wouldn’t want to assume.

Anyway, Joe was in the city and we had a little chat. I said something about the colourful face he carried in his hand, about how nice and colourful it was. He smiled, was very modest about it then said a few nice things about it, and handed it to me as a gift. I was very happy with this unexpected surprise – it had been an ordinary Thursday so far - and thanked him. Then he crossed the street, only to stop in the middle of the road, turn around, look at me with a broad grin and gave me the thumbs-up. I gave him the thumbs-up back, and he was visibly happy with that. Meanwhile cars had started to stop on the road because Joe was standing right in the middle of their lane giving me the thumbs-up. The driver of the front car started to honk, Joe walked up to the car, obviously not impressed. No, the driver did not end up getting out of the car and Joe didn’t end up dragging him out. There was some contest for a while of who would be the bigger convincer: the driver honking or Joe making huge arm gestures. In the end Joe was the wiser party and continued his walk across the street, the drivers continued their trips and all was good. Just life in the big city, often grey and rushed, got more colourful for a little while.

I took the piñata with me in the bus, placing it on the seat next to me. My fellow passengers looked at it and it brought smiles to some faces: Joe made not only my life a little more colourful that day, but also the lives of the other people. The snowball effect of a friendly deed. You never know how something simple you say or do might impact on others, might make them smile, might make their day better, even if you don't know them.

Written by Bernie the Polite Girl from The Polite Team. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Polite Team

The Polite Team,


A lot of people don’t know or understand what the ‘Polite Team’ means or is.
It’s true I carried the name and if you want to call it, the title of ‘Grant the Polite Guy’ for years now and I was always proud to say and use it because people knew the name as someone that helped people in need and homeless of course for being polite too. Haha. I always say “It cost nothing to be polite so I have heaps”

Bernie the Polite Girl was born and I couldn’t have been prouder, I have mentioned it before, but yes she’s very polite and even more so than me helps people in need and the homeless in ways that I wish I could. She has more heart and never stops working on helping.

The Polite Team began with the two of us starting to work as a team so we can help so many more people together as a team. So far this has been very successful with many more people being helped as we work together.

Now I’m not letting Bernie read this before posting, but some people know my health isn’t the best and to be honest if I was to pick a replacement for me then I couldn’t have picked a better one then Bernie (I hope she don’t get a swell head because of this, haha)

We wanted to form a ‘Polite Team’ because if one of us isn’t around then the other would be able to help instead. To be honest it’s the people getting help that matters. But look at it this way, instead of one polite guy there’s a polite team of two. AWESOME no matter how you look at it. Haha

I have been looking at the stats of this blog and I know a lot of readers don’t agree and don’t read this blog. Well if you ever read this I’m sorry you feel like I have joined a team but really think about it, I was always doing it on my own and everything got bigger, the amount of people being helped, BBQ’s for the homeless got bigger and I’m not scared to say I started being overwhelmed and did need someone like ‘Bernie the Polite Girl’ to help.

If I was to be really honest, Bernie helped me through a really tough time, which I’m not ready to talk about right now. But know that even I have tough times and as positive as I am, I needed someone to talk too.  So I ask that you all show her the respect that you would me, not because I’m asking, but because she has done far more than me but has never written about it in a blog like I did.


Now some people still don’t know everything about the BBQ on the 2nd of December. So here’s everything so far.

Christmas BBQ for the Homeless and People in need.

Musgrave Park

10am to 2pm

Everything at this event is free.

There’s only one rule ‘If you can carry it, it’s yours’

People can help by donating clothes, toiletries, at Post Office Square, Queen St between 7am to 2pm on the 30th  November. Also at Anzac Tunnel between 3:30pm to 6pm on the 30th November.

Now this is important, so far there’s a huge need for marquees (free standing), tables, toiletries (also ladies toiletries) and clothes. But the biggest need is helpers for handing out flyiers before the BBQ and on the day.

This is going to be bigger then we have ever had in the past before so I’m asking if people can help then please do. Let’s work as a team and show the homeless and people in need that the community is coming together to help.

One thing I always keep thinking to myself and that’s ‘helping someone in need can’t be a bad thing, but an honour, because everyone hits bad times and wishes someone would help.’

I hope you all have a good day and thank you for reading my blog. Please share this post and maybe others will be helping others as well. There’s the little blue F and B at the bottom of this post.

Thank you again.
Grant the Polite Guy from the Polite Team.
0142 190 011
@grantpoliteguy (twitter)
Grant Richards (Facebook)