Prior to lockdown, the Foundation organised regular site visits to Community Grants Program recipient organisations to show supporters, in person, what their generosity is helping build. During a visit to the kitchen, Sisters, Foundation staff and donors were treated to a delicious lunch and tour of the facilities, and also had the opportunity to chat with community kitchen regulars who wholeheartedly value the services Prosper provides.
Prosper (Project Australia) is a multi-award-winning small community organisation that aims to support disadvantaged children and their families. Its community kitchen program gives those experiencing poverty and homelessness access to a free kitchen facility, cooking equipment, storage containers and fresh ingredients to prepare healthy meals for their families. Prosper also organises other services like clothing and necessities drives, kids’ playgroups and more.
“It has been a marvellous platform for community-building and increasing the dignity of those who are isolated or disadvantaged,” says Prosper’s founder Karen Craigie.
Supporting young mothers
Mum-of-four Clare is a community kitchen regular. “Everyone said, ‘Have kids, have them close together, it’ll be really good,’ but they never said how busy and crazy it can get!” Clare laughs.
“Prosper provides you with toiletries, with nappies – they’re such a big expense as a parent. It’s so invaluable to me. I was a bit hesitant because I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage. There are so many people that need help, I don’t want to be taking somebody else’s place. But [the staff] were so kind and loving they made me realise they’re here for people like me. My son waits for Thursdays because they have a food truck that comes here!”
Raumanu is stay-at-home mum to four girls who came to Australia from Fiji 20 years ago. She first heard about Prosper when she was trying to help a homeless man who lived in a park near her house.
“I try to take him food once a week; I thought eventually I could get him to come here too,” she explains. “But when I came [to the community kitchen] I liked it. I don’t have many family members in Australia so this gives me a sense of community, to be able to meet with people.”
Her husband is working but supporting a family of 6 on one income is not easy, so Raumanu was grateful to access fresh, healthy food and other necessities.
“I have mother friends and you can see they’re struggling but they don’t want to admit they need help from a place like this,” she says. “For me it’s a season. When my little one goes to school eventually then I can go back to work – hopefully one day I can come back and volunteer here.”
Staff who make a difference
Aside from working as facilitator in Prosper’s parenting programs, Dima helps run the community kitchen days. She came to Australia from Syria 6 years ago and found the transition difficult.
“I have a passion to help people because I’m trying to have them not go through what I went through,” she says. “What I suffered I try to tell them, so their settlement journey will be easier.
“Here you have more nationalities so you need to respect and understand others, to mix and have skills, to engage in the community. Helping others do this is my goal.”
Isha coordinates Prosper’s playgroup, and helps out with other services as needed. “There are so many people that are really in need,” she says. “We provide clothes and other kitchen items, nappies, food… When you see how many people come! We don’t have to advertise, there are so many people.”
Karen Craigie started Prosper in 2014 with her husband. “From the moment we began the demand for our services has exceeded our capacity,” she says. “There are so many people that need help. The reality is that for many families every day is a struggle. The layers of hardship and disadvantage are impossible to grasp unless you have seen it yourself.
“The Sisters of Charity Foundation enabled us to start a community kitchen that has been so valuable to families and other members of the community who have nowhere to cook, nowhere to sleep, and no one to turn to. We do our little bit, cook with them, create a community that they are part of and try to connect them with other services who can play another small part in their story.”
How is the Foundation helping disadvantaged families?
Through its Community Grants Program, the Sisters of Charity Foundation has been supporting community organisations that help families put food on the table for 20 years. This year the Foundation is supporting CareWorks SunRanges, Moving Forward, St Michael’s Meals, Survivor’s R Us, The Kogarah Storehouse, the Vedanta Centre, Will2Live, and Your Angel Charity – all amazing organisations working on the front lines to feed desperate families.
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How We Help
Each year we’re able to make a difference to thousands of people across the country with funds generously donated by compassionate Australians. We support initiatives that focus on benefiting the disadvantaged, marginalised and socially isolated people in our community.