Make a difference this winter

A confronting privilege.

Somewhat a juxtaposition, but this statement is how it sometimes feels to lead the CatholicCare team and our diverse services, as we serve our community.

Work in social services and the church is a true privilege. To serve others and be able to make a difference in people’s lives as we seek to fulfil our mission at CatholicCare - to build a stronger, kinder, and more fair society.

However, it is through this work supporting our local community that our team hears stories that can be quite confronting.

Stories of homelessness, stories of family breakdown, stories of people who through no fault of their own, land in tough times.

In the Mid-North Coast region we became aware of a number of people having to live in a national park campsite with no hot water and no electricity. We know of families who have been living in cars and turn to our community kitchen to get food.

But amongst these challenges, there are many stories of hope.

I think of the people who attend the Hamilton South Community Kitchen. We hear wonderful stories of how volunteers touch the lives of those who attend. The space gives locals a place to meet, a place to find friends, and a place to access support through a soft entry process that we operate, all while receiving a meal.

Our Refugee Hub and our dedicated volunteers help people with support on their learner driver licence. They assist with driving lessons across 120 driving hours and watch people graduate with their licence and a newfound independence.

Each year we call on others in our community to be part of this hope and contribute to CatholicCare’s ability to make a difference.

There's always a spike for our services in winter, but this year we are seeing more of it and earlier than we usually do.

People are particularly struggling with their household incomes, affordable housing pressures and the rise of expenses. It’s significant pressure.

The people impacted this year don’t fit the stereotype of traditional homelessness.

It’s a neighbour approaching a marriage breakdown with no ability to pay rent on their own. It’s the customer in front of you at Coles who hasn’t yet been paid and last fortnight’s budget has $10 remaining.

Bishop Michael writes on page 4, “It is a commitment to human dignity that propels so many good people to give of their time, talents, and money to protect and promote the dignity of those at risk.”

At the core, that is CatholicCare’s true impact. Providing dignity to someone in need at a time when they need it most. We can’t do this without others.

Our community programs receive no government funding, yet they make a significant impact in the local community as we work tirelessly to support people's lives.

We rely on donations from the community and donations from the Catholic Community Fund.

Our volunteers are doing a tremendous job in trying to keep up with the demand. Our donors are giving us lots of food and fresh produce but we need more.

Please, help us make a difference in the lives of others with a gift to the CatholicCare Appeal before June 30.

These gifts, a contribution to give others dignity when they need it most, are the real stories of hope and privilege in our local community.

To make a donation visit Make a difference (

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Gary Christensen

Gary Christensen is the Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. Please visit