Parish walks the walk

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The community at St Ursula’s College at Kingsgrove take their motto – I Will Serve – very seriously.

Every week they not only serve but prepare around 250 meals for the vulnerable in their local area.

2021-22 College Vice Captain Cristina Yazbeck joins an army of committed volunteers who come together every week to provide for those in need of a helping hand.

The Year 11 student said she began volunteering with One Meal to connect with her passion for social justice and make a real difference in her local community.

She said providing meals for those in need taught her that small actions have big impacts, and opened her eyes to the needs of others in her our local community.

“I volunteer with two groups, through my College and through my Parish,” she said.

“In recent months, I have been preparing food on a weekly basis, with our meals not only being provided to locals in need, but also distributed to other communities and shelters.

“My involvement has really opened my eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters in our local community.

“For me, One Meal enables me to live out our College motto, Serviam – I Will Serve. We are opening our arms and hearts to those in need, just as Jesus did.”

And it’s not just about the food, it’s an opportunity for the lonely and isolated to chat with someone who cares.

As One Meal Kingsgrove is considered an essential service, it has continued to operate during lockdown, running a restriction-compliant operation by students, parents, carers, teachers, staff, families and ex-students, throughout the pandemic.

Joining forces with Our Lady of Fatima Primary School, around 140 volunteers spend hours of their own time in their own kitchens making nutritious home-cooked meals which includes a piping hot dinner, rice, salad and dessert, with all ingredients purchased by the volunteers themselves.

Brainchild of the service, college Assistant Religious Education Coordinator Antoinette Nader said she was thrilled with the response to their service due only to the generosity, kindness and love shown by her school community.

“We recognise that community is essential in supporting people during difficult times,” she said.

“People access our service for a number of reasons, not all are hungry – many are lonely, isolated and simply longing for a friendly conversation.

“Providing this service quite simply is a way of living the college ethos of Serviam which translates to ‘I Will Serve’.

“Knowing we are helping those in the community doing it a little tough really has given us a better understanding of giving while at the same time bringing us closer together as a Catholic community.”

President of Vinnies Kingsgrove Conference Bernard Deady said the One Meal service was invaluable.

“The One Meal Kingsgrove service offers tremendous support for families in our local community who are doing it tough,” he said.

“These include families under severe financial, accommodation and psychological stress; single mums with young babies and homeless people.

“Our clients really appreciate the thoughtfulness of those providing the service.

“The quality, quantity and variety of One Meal Kingsgrove food offers them great support, and are a real comfort to know people are thinking of them through their difficult time, and for them, the One Meal Kingsgrove team are ‘their angels’.”

Written by: Debbie Cramsie, The Catholic Weekly

Photo credit: Alphonsus Fok

This article was first published by the Catholic Weekly on 9 September, 2021

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