Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our Christmas BBQ: a Terrific Day in the Sun

Grant and I both have our own stories to tell about the BBQ for the Homeless and Others in Need of last Sunday 2 December, and we will both write about it in our posts here. I thought I’d put some photos in as I go so you have a better idea of how it was. One photo says more than a million words isn’t it J

And what a wonderful day Sunday was! Musgrave Park was a wonderful place in the sun where people gathered to celebrate Christmas (we even had Santa coming!), to share food, drinks, clothes, shoes, toiletries and many more things, and to share the company of people from all different walks of life. The notion behind an event like this is that people with very little possessions and without a roof over their heads are people just like others who do have homes and jobs and the whole rigmarole. At an event like this everyone meets as equals, and that works miracles for all parties, because on a very basic level we are all the same and we all want the same.

Rainman, Katarina, and Santa with the Polite Team 
It was a very early start for us who got up with the sun to set up marquees, unfold tables, unload utes, and carry mega packs of drinks, but the mood was spectacular right from the word go. We were all buzzing with excitement about the day ahead and we helped each other, and before too long we could see the event area take shape, but the place was not complete until Dalton Hospitality arrived (still early!) with several vehicles loaded with food and equipment.  We had a few early guests who were very welcome and who were already very much looking forward to the day ahead. Wonderful to feel and see their anticipation! Fiona Deadman and The Great South East arrived early as well – yes we will be on TV around Christmas; watch this space for the details, folks!

One of Dalton Hospitality's vehicles
 It was still very early in the morning when I went back to the storage space with John, to upload the ute with bags and boxes full of goods. After a little incident on the Inner City Bypass (we lost a shirt and tried to prevent that from happening again) we arrived back safely at Musgrave Park – with all the goods except that one shirt, hahaha. And the park was so much fuller! All the marquees were up, the organizations and others were busy getting their goods on the tables, the place was alive with homeless and other people in need, and it was not even 10AM yet – the time the event officially kicked off. And to see all that coming together so beautifully in the park for real, to see that so many people had a good time at this event that we had organized, oh man, it almost made me cry but I could contain myself.

Lovely to see!
 Early-ish in the day I went to have a chat with the group of indigenous people that sat a bit further down from the BBQ. They were extremely friendly, shook hands and introduced themselves. I enquired if they had had a feed at our BBQ and they had. They also had had a look at our clothes and had taken a few things. One of them said this was their park. I acknowledged this, and thanked them for having us. They replied it was their absolute pleasure. Their appreciation was huge; just a few simple words of acknowledgement and gratitude went a long way.

One of the absolute highlights for the Polite Team was the fact that three people who came to attend our BBQ walked away as employed people having obtained jobs, two with a landscaping business and one with Dalton Hospitality. Here’s a photo of the Polite Team and Wayne, who started his job with Dalton Hospitality within 24 hours after attending the BBQ:

With Wayne, now employed by Dalton Hospitality
We were very well looked after with staff from Dalton Hospitality doing the rounds several times, keeping us hydrated with freshly squeezed orange juice and watermelon juice, staff from St John Ambulance went around generously applying sunscreen onto countless arms, shoulders, and legs. The Christmas spirit was not forgotten either with St John and Santa (and what a beautiful Santa he was!) handing out Christmas stockings and candy canes.

Dalton Hospitality staff handing out a watermelon juice to one of our guests.
Like at the last BBQ we had, I was moved by the consideration homeless people showed others; they saw piles and piles of good quality clothes, shoes and what have you, and everything was for free: as long as they could carry it, it was theirs. Without exception these were people with very few possessions, but many of them were careful not to take too many things as others might need it more. And even though there was plenty (and I do mean plenty!) of food, they were also very careful not to have too much as they were very aware there were others needing a feed as well. We could all learn a lot from these people.

It was the first time that we had a shuttle bus driving people to and from the event, and what a great idea that was! People made good use of the service, the atmosphere was great when people waited to be transported and without a doubt even greater when on the road. Thank you Jay, for driving tirelessly and kindly.

Happy people after a great day in the sun, waiting to be driven back to the Valley and Spring Hill
Finally, before signing off, a word of thanks to everyone who made this event happen. Without each and every one of you this event would not have been the same. Thank you to the many volunteers and to the businesses who contributed in fantastic ways. I tried to keep it alphabetical but somehow it did not work entirely:

Making a Difference - Brisbane

Written by Bernie the Polite Girl from The Polite Team 


  1. Thank you for your great post Bernie; you write with such love and compassion! I'm a member of K4BN but due to a prior commitment, couldn't help on the day. You all did an amazing job :-) Thank you Grant and Bernie for being the wonderful people that you are.

  2. This is such a wonderful project, Bernie! I sincerely hope you get to hold many of these BBQ parties/job fairs for the less fortunate. I also think they’re not the ones who were fortunate or got to obtain something. All the people behind this, especially you and Grant, also gained the opportunity to share what you have, and I’m sure good things will come to you all because of your wonderful hearts. Hope many more will participate in your meaningful BBQ events!