As part of the 2015 LifeLink Winter Appeal, the eRecord is this month taking a closer look at the work undertaken by organisations such Identitywa, Centrecare, Catholic Ministry for People who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired, Daydawn, Emmaus Community, Emmanuel Centre, Centacare Employment & Training, Djooraminda, The Shopfront and Catholic Outreach.
LifeLink is the overarching organisation that provides ongoing funding support for agencies that deliver professional services and caring support to thousands of people in need throughout Western Australia each year.
This week eRecord Editor Jamie O’Brien speaks with Rosario Murace, a 36-year old Maylands resident who, thanks to the assistance and support of The Shopfront, has been able to get his life back on track, following a series of unfortunate events.
Serviced predominantly by volunteers, The Shopfront is at the forefront of the Archdiocese’s work in helping to relieve poverty and suffering in an environment that offers practical assistance, fellowship and hospitality.
Founded in 2001 by now Archdiocesan Manager of Corporate Services, Julie Williams, following an initiative from Archbishop Emeritus Hickey, the LifeLink-funded agency assists more than 3,000 people in need each year with many repeat visitors. A significant number of these people are homeless.
The Shopfront Director, Brian Tierney, says the work of staff and volunteers includes providing a listening ear and a caring heart in a non-bureaucratic manner.
“We strive to respect the equal dignity of each person who comes as a visitor.
“We aim to offer everyone who enters The Shopfront some form of immediate help,” Mr Tierney said.
“This often means pursuing various lines of information until we are able to obtain more suitable assistance for the person in need.
“We network with other agencies to enable us to effectively assist people.
“Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey envisioned The Shopfront as an agency which would empower people in the Church to use their gifts and talents in a spirit of solidarity to assist those in need of assistance,” he said.
A prime success story of The Shopfront is 36-year old Rosario Murace.
Originally from the Swan Valley, Rosario became homeless earlier this year, following a series of unfortunate events where he ‘lost everything’.
“It was horrible,” he says. “I felt like no one cared about me.”
“Every day that I was on the streets, I would look at people going home, walk past the houses and I could smell the cooking and I’d think of how they have a place to relax,” Rosario says.
“I realised I couldn’t do this anymore, that it was time to get off the streets.”
After some six weeks living in tents and in a caravan park, Rosario found The Shopfront through a friend and says he was pleasantly surprised.
“Why would people help out like this?
“When you live on the streets, you see a lot of homeless people and you think that’s how your life is going to be if you don’t do anything about it.
“That was enough for me to get myself into gear and do what I needed to do to survive.”
Rosario’s life is now back on track, currently studying at TAFE, and has even taken up professional weightlifting again, after a 10-year break.
Mr Tierney said that providing help to those who come into The Shopfront can vary from providing assistance with accommodation, budgeting, depression, hunger, loneliness, addictions and violence.
“A good number of visitors who are also generally socially isolated come to The Shopfront to find friendship,” Mr Tierney.
“Life on the streets can be quite demanding and often no one wants to talk.
“So part of our work here at The Shopfront also involves offering mutual help programs for the relief of sickness, distress and suffering within the general community.
“We provide warm, caring, fellowship and hospitality to the visitors and also network with other agencies to enable us to effectively assist people.”
Your support for the 2015 LifeLink Winter Appeal means that the work of organisations like The Shopfront can continue to work with those most in need.
The aim this year is to raise more than $300,000 – a figure that is greatly needed to help agencies and organisations that assist those in need in a variety of situations – whether it be in the form of practical emergency assistance or long-term support.
To donate to LifeLink, go to www.lifelink.com.au.