It’s been 10 years since St Vincent de Paul Society’s food van began serving warm drinks on cold evenings – rain, hail or shine – for people in need in Orange.
The van provides providing sandwiches, tea, coffee and hot chocolate every second week, with 80 per cent of the people who require the service being children.
The van – and the volunteers that run it – will be treated to a birthday party with a sausage sizzle on Saturday outside the Peisley Street IGA from 8am, with cake and speeches from 10.30am.
Founder of the Vinnies food van Rosie Frecklington said it had been a long journey to get the van started.
She was asked to step into the role as returning officer for Vinnies, and got the idea of the food van from seeing the same service in Sydney.
“I thought ‘why do they only have a food van down here, what about poor people in the country?’,” she said.
Mrs Frecklington said her experience helping people on welfare with her husband Barry made them think something had to change to pull people out of the cycle of poverty.
“If we can just save one it’s all worth it,” she said.
“The focus was to change these kids’ way of thinking. We couldn’t change the way the adults think, being on Centrelink and on handouts from the government.”
“The food was only an excuse to get in there and talk to them. The main focus was to change their thinking.
“All we need to get in there is respect and kindness and the word of Jesus – they will remember that kindness in their heart down the track.
Volunteer Chris Lennon said engagement with young children was crucial to changing mindsets.
“One of the things I like to do when I talk to the kids is ask them what sort of job they’d like when they leave school because a lot of them have never seen anyone with a job,” he said.
“Being near us also changes their eyes to certain types of behaviour. I refer to them as ‘young man’ and ‘young lady’ and aside from school teachers most of the adults they see are swearing every second word,” he said.
“One kid said ‘I’m going bash you’ and I said ‘oi, we don’t say that here’ – to hear someone pull them up on it is a different way of thinking.
“That’s just how they talk, when they come see us it’s a different mindset.”
Mrs Frecklington said she wanted to thank every sponsor who had helped the food van in its decade of existence.