Smiles that do not diminish at any cost

Transforming lives is just one of the incredible benefits that the phenomenal workers and volunteers receive at Sydney’s Parramatta Mission. Amongst a massive staffing of 300 active workers and 500 extraordinary volunteers lies some of the most inspiring, hard-working souls.

Neville Riggs is the oldest running volunteer in age, and length of service the Mission has on board. This remarkable 85-year-old man has been volunteering for 25 years, and still counting. The passion for what he does can be perceived through the way he approaches every task with enthusiasm and a distinct goal of improving society for patrons that are just in hope for some assistance.

‘I first heard about the Mission on the local radio station and decided to join on Christmas Day 25 years ago.’ ‘My first job was just helping out with the washing up, then before I knew it I was learning everything else in this place.’ ‘I love it because it keeps me going, but it does have its moments.’ he laughed.

This local district is the residence to some of the furthermost distressed clientele, battling life issues such as limited housing, mental illness, domestic violence and homelessness. Parramatta Mission is a positive movement that has been successful in its goals of removing pressure off many clients for the past 40 years and has obtained increasing support. The Mission is associated with the United Church Parish to produce an association that preaches honest Christian morals towards charity work.

Many volunteers exactly like Mr. Riggs get on board to generate something wonderful that should be recognised on a national basis. These helpers accomplish daily tasks through the sincere pleasure of changing many lives. They are a group consisting of all ages, occupations, suburbs and nationalities lending a generous hand to uphold the service and support this astounding Mission leads.

Senior case worker Fred Anderson stated, ‘It is a non-profit, charity organisation that stretches from Hornsby to the Blue Mountains providing telephone lifeline, face to face support and a welcoming community kitchen for every consumer that requires it.’

The Community kitchen is known as ‘Meals Plus’ that currently caters for 150 patrons per day during two meal sittings.

The volunteers that work for this small kitchen are a bunch of noble faces that serve up every dish with a smile and a cup of pure delight for what they do.

Mr. Anderson explained that, ‘These people don’t just wake up and decide to be a drunk, it’s the harsh reality they live in that leads them to this action, resulting in mental and physical scars.’ ‘Help and support is still in great demand within this demographic, as it is very difficult to find proper accommodation for families and especially single parents.’

Alongside the kitchen, there is a 24-hour telephone lifeline support service, and face-to-face assistance that operates during working hours. Clients are also open to beneficial services such as a shower, laundry, lawyers, financial councilor and Centrelink. These services provide a significant building block for each patron experiencing vast demand of relief.

Mr. Riggs may have decided to spontaneously lend a hand on that lonesome Christmas Day all those years ago, but for now he is looked upon as an inspiration, and a role model at the Mission who has impacted on many lives throughout the years. Now, 25 years on and there is nothing but sincerity and enjoyment in this mans eyes.

‘Everybody should look after each other and help each other out through life, this is why I got involved and I why I still love doing it.’ stated Neville.

United to create such a large, high-ranking service within such a small community is the way all citizens should recognise this unique group of people that are involved. For them, it is about the absolute pleasure of doing something admirable and knowing they are helping out in some minor way. No matter how hard the job and how long the hours; these people only see good, honest work being completed everyday.

By Monique Murray

Australia's Student Newspaper, trying to Improve Student Life. We publish articles written by students from across Australia and the world!

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