“Wayne came to us about four years ago, and over the years has received professional counselling, life-skills training, financial assistance, meals assistance and weekly one-on-one mentoring as he volunteers with our outreach team,” says Lauryn Hornby from Life-Gate, a charity based in Frankston, Victoria, that received a recent Foundation Community Grant.

“We’ve watched over the years as he’s addressed some of the deep wounds in his soul from the very difficult childhood he experienced, deep wounds of rejection and worthlessness and inadequacy.”

Wayne’s story: a childhood of trauma and rejection

“My life started in Terana Boys Home at the age of about two. When I was three, a man in a big black uniform with medals all over his chest pulled me out of a sliding cabinet I used to play in to feel safe… he and his wife told me they were going to adopt me. I never really had the opportunity to get to know my adoptive parents as I spent so much time in and out of hospital with epilepsy.

In grade 3, my parents put me back into the boys home. I lived in the Ashendene Boys Home in Olinda. It was very hard. It was a world of no love, no respect… It was not a nice place to be – boys would kick your head in if you dobbed them in for anything. I got bullied quite a lot and I lived in fear all the time.”

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Life-Gate’s mentoring-through-art program, Colour of Hope, uses art as a means of providing counselling, life-skills training and mentoring to at-risk and vulnerable youth – many with a childhood similar to Wayne’s.

“At 15, I was moved to a youth hostel because of my age. I didn’t fit in. I couldn’t accept what was happening in my life. I was battling with depression and missing my adopted family and struggling to adjust to the ‘real world’ and I was still suffering from epilepsy.

By the time I was 16 I was a full-on alcoholic. I was moved to another place a year later and got out of there at about 18. I tried to make it on my own but I ended up on the streets for a couple of years. I struggled with a lot of stuff because I can’t read or write too good.”

The road to healing

Wayne heard about Life-Gate from a friend and decided to give it a go.

“When he first came to Life-Gate, Wayne was a very rough man – angry, with a very short fuse, but sincere and wanting to learn and grow. He joined our life-skills training college and has faithfully attended every week for over four years now,” says Lauryn.

“Literacy is a struggle for Wayne, not having received a basic education, and yet every week he takes the lecture notes we provide home and spends the entire week reading through them, studying and consolidating the lessons we seek to impart.”

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People who sleep rough can receive meals and assistance from Life-Gate volunteers.

“We have watched him learn to forgive, to experience freedom from anger and to develop humility and compassion for others. It has been incredible to see the impact the counselling, mentoring and life-skills teaching has had (and is still having!) in his life.”

“I loved it as soon as I saw the place!” Wayne exclaims. “I feel like I fit in here better than I ever have anywhere.”

Joining a family of volunteers

“In addition to the training and counselling he came to access, Wayne joined our street outreach services team as a volunteer in 2019,” says Lauryn. “This volunteer role has been a rich source of development for him and a great source of joy.

“I wish you could see the way his face lights up the moment he starts talking about the outreach program – his love for it, the pleasure he has in spending time with and reaching out to the guys battling with addictions and broken lives.”

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Wayne, Lauryn and two other volunteers in front of the Life-Gate Meals for Change mobile kitchen trailer, which goes out onto the streets at night to provide hot meals and crisis assistance to people who are homeless or isolated.

“People tell me I’ve changed and that I’m not the person I used to be,” says Wayne. “I love volunteering with the outreach. I enjoy getting out there, putting myself in a position where I can try to help someone get a fresh start in life. Being at Life-Gate as a student and volunteer is helping me learn to love people and care for them.

“I feel the love in this place and I know I have a home and a real family here. Life-Gate has become my family – the people here love you no matter who you are, where you’re from, what you’ve done.”

“It is incredible to see the way that a man who never felt like he had a family or belonged anywhere, has found a family and opportunities to serve and reach out to others who are isolated and vulnerable as he once was,” says Lauryn.

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The Meals for Change trailer in operation.

About the Community Grants Program

Every year the Sisters of Charity Foundation provides grants of up to $15,000 to small not-for-profits across Australia, like Life-Gate, that use clever ways to fight poverty, loneliness, suffering and oppression. We rely on the generosity of our supporters to fund our Community Grants Program.

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.

Find out more