Tuesday, October 21, 2014

BBQs for the Homeless and Others in Need: Caboolture and Christmas is coming!


Bells are jingling, folks! Signal Flare's Polite Team are experiencing exciting times and are in the throes of organizing our Christmas BBQ for the Homeless and Others in Need. Like last year, I have been humming “Jingle Bells” for weeks now; there's nothing quite like the anticipation of a terrific BBQ to spread some Christmas spirit for those who may otherwise not have much of it. Organizing this day and knowing it's going to bring a lot of smiles is almost as much fun as the day itself :-)

I calculated that right now we are in the middle between our last BBQ for the Homeless and Others in Need and the Christmas one, - five and a half weeks out both sides - so I figured I write about both. Before starting on the Christmas barbie, I'll write about the last BBQ first. Sunday 14 September was the first time that we headed out to Caboolture to have our BBQ there at Apex Park near the beautiful Centenary Lakes, and I would like to send out a big thank you to the Moreton Bay Regional Council for having us, and to Councillor Chippendale for his support of us with a donation from his Community Support Fund. I have to say, it was an honour to be so welcome, to meet so many beautiful people who turned out to volunteer, and to see community in action while visiting groups in the lead-up to the BBQ such as Caboolture Community Action and Friends of the Street. Yes, we spent quite some time in Caboolture leading up to BBQ day, handing out flyers and meeting community groups. On the day the presence of our valued, long-term supporters Knitting for Brisbane's Needy and Drug Arm was hugely appreciated again (Dana, you rock!!!), and major thanks to Grant's parents, Robyn and Ron, for helping out with their trailer as always, and to the Ipswich Hospital Foundation for lending us their tables and marquees plus trailer, so that we would be able to bring out our donations and to have shelter from the sun. “Care packs for Brisbane's Homeless” came out to Caboolture to hand out beautiful packs full of essentials – thank you, guys! The gifted, enthusiastic team that manned the BBQs on the day made sure we all had happy tummies and were well fed and smiling. Here is a photo of the happy BBQers and the Polite Team :-)

It was a big day, packing up trailers and transporting donations, tables and marquees to Apex Park in Caboolture, have everything set up by 10am, have a great time with Caboolture's homeless, others in need and volunteers, and then pack up and bring everything back to Brisbane. Many, many thanks to Gerhard and Rebecca who were priceless, and to James for transporting the tables and marquees back to Ipswich. The help you guys gave is invaluable. Definitely a day that was very, very worth while!

The BBQ itself, wow! New park, new city, but the sun was shining (Grant always says it never rains on his BBQs, haha) and the heart was the same. The compassion, the goodwill, the smiles, the kindness, the guests who left the BBQ walking a bit straighter than when they arrived and who felt clearly uplifted. People were so happy to have the opportunity to be kind to others and to help, and others were happy to receive that kindness and help. We received excellent feedback about our very first BBQ for the Homeless and Others in Need in Caboolture, which was so good to hear.

And, people, we have been moving fast. The Polite Team kick ass, haha! The day following the Caboolture BBQ we booked Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, for our annual Christmas BBQ – Sunday 30 November is the day! Thank you, Brisbane City Council, for approving it! It promises to be very special. We will have the support of Dalton Hospitality again, Queensland's 5-start caterers who outdo themselves every time they so generously give their time to share their beautiful foods with our guests and volunteers. We have Santa coming, and there will be a few surprises. We are planning to have some special Christmas treats, and pressies for all kids. Apart from that, of course there will be the clothes, shoes, toiletries, children's toys and much more that has all been donated by the community to give away to those who need it. Anyone who wants to help, please contact the Polite Team.

I know of at least one of my mates who is coming to the BBQ! Raymond, who has been in genuine need for several decades, is looking forward. I saw him in the city just the other day, and talking about this upcoming Christmas BBQ I saw his eyes light up. Our BBQs are a highlight for Raymond. He always keeps to himself, but he thoroughly enjoys the friendly and social atmosphere of our events. He always comes to the ones in Musgrave Park and likes to have a little chat. Ipswich or Caboolture are too far for him to get to.

There are many people like Raymond who find their way to our BBQs. Dealt a rough hand by life, people end up on the street. Living on the streets is often a very isolating experience and can crush self worth, and our BBQs provide the opportunity to connect with others, to share a meal and a laugh, to get some clothes, toiletries and other basics that many people take for granted and that make their lives just a little bit easier. Our BBQs provide equality and inclusion; it doesn't matter whether someone is homeless, a CEO of a major company or anything in between. At our BBQs people eat together and chat together, the CEO may help the homeless person find the clothes he or she needs, or may even employ someone, offering them the opportunity to tun their lives around. A start is often all they need, the rest is up to them. A friendly, encouraging word that is spoken often does wonders to the person on the receiving end. It may not happen right away, but change has often been instigated by someone believing in them. One of the most beautiful things is when someone who came to get help at one BBQ turns his or her life around and comes to the next BBQ to volunteer, give back and help others.

And so we are looking forward to our Christmas BBQ. To sharing some Christmas spirit. To sharing some food and drinks. I know it's early, but here's to Christmas and to all who make Christmas what it is – all of you!
Written by Bernie the Polite Girl for the Polite Team