2013 has been another wonderful and very busy year! We were able to provide a stable home environment and life skill opportunities for approximately 27 women and their families that have been in need in our local area. Other than the regular humdrum of daily life – daily meals, school, counselling, hanging out, skills training – here are some highlights that we’d like to share with you…
For part of 2013 a local cafe was able to take on 3 of our girls to do work experience and hospitality training. Our girls learnt skills in customer service, taking orders, coffee making and food ordering/handling. This was a great opportunity for our girls to gain confidence and skills in a work environment.
We were blessed by a local church who sponsored two of our girls and two JEM leaders to attend the Hillsong conference in Sydney. The girls travelled by car and had a fantastic time attending the conference including attending lots of different workshops. They experienced a great time of growth and friendship together.
Northern Territory Service Trip
16 of us travelled by bus from Melbourne into the dead centre of Australia. We went to the Aboriginal community of Finke where our girls were involved in rotating service projects, each leading and giving their helping hand. These service projects included an after school kids program, garden projects, a footy clinic run in collaboration with the school, help with childcare and assisting at the church. A highlight for the girls was having a community bonfire night where many kangaroo tails and sweet potatoes were eaten. Our girls decided to stick to the sweet potato!!!
After a fantastic but exhausting 10 days at Finke, we had the privilege of driving out to Uluru where all of our girls were given a complimentary 2 night stay at a lodge there. Our girls got to experience the central desert with amazing sunsets at Uluru and The Olgas. Overall the trip was an experience of a lifetime and a memory the girls will always cherish. They each grew in so many ways from team work, leadership skills, emotional and behavioural management and how to endure 16 hours together in a bus!
“I learnt a lot about helping people, and how to be in a place and serve. I enjoyed the different culture and environment, it really opened my eyes to the fact that other people aren’t as well off as us. It gave me a real sense of awareness” – Asher resident
2013 saw the JEM team, Asher girls and many local church volunteers undertake a number of working bees to continue to make our houses more homely. It’s amazing what some fresh paint and carpet cleaning can do! The gardens have also been worked on at the Croydon property and the girls were able to take more ownership of the Croydon house, buying homely items for the lounge room such as wall hangings and small home decorations to add a personal touch and help the girls take pride in their house.
We had a great combined Christmas celebration on the weekend before the big day including a visit from Santa, lots of yummy food and of course present opening. On Christmas day it was ensured that all the girls had somewhere to enjoy a meal and celebration and they also spent Christmas morning in the homes opening stockings and presents.
“I loved Christmas. Christmas day and the Christmas party felt just like family to me, which meant a lot. I really enjoyed it. I got lots of presents, which made me feel really cared about, as it was specific things that I loved and also things that I needed.”
– Asher resident
Blackburn House Change
2013 has been our final year at the Blackburn house. Our lease is coming to a close soon so we are currently on the hunt for another property in the local area. We are very grateful for the use of this house for the past 3 years – it has provided not just a dwelling but a home and family for countless young girls from all walks of life.