Carevan is a spectacular new initiative, just about to launch in Armidale. FOCUS talks with Chris Cole, who tells us all about this great new addition to the New England …
For those of us who don’t know, what is “Carevan”?
Carevan is a community run “soup kitchen” that supplies meals to the homeless, needy and less fortunate people in our community. It is run by volunteers, who on several nights a week take their “van” out into the community. The van will be set up in various locations in Armidale, depending on need. Meals are then served to whoever turns up at the van. Chairs and trestle tables are set up, and everyone and anyone is invited to join in for the meal.
We are attempting to (as similar to Carevan Albury) get schools involved in preparing and supplying the meals. Then once each term, these students are invited to come out with the van and witness “the fruits of their generosity” by serving and enjoying a meal with the Carevan guests.
This acts as a very compelling sense of community for these school students and is an introduction to the act of volunteering.
How did the idea come about?
Dr John Brabant is an orthodontist in Albury and saw the need in that city for feeding the homeless and needy. He is a good friend of local dentist Chris Cole.
After a public meeting in 2015, there was a bit of hiatus, but the drive from Liz Williams continued the impetus and now a committee has been formed and a van has been purchased. It is on its way, and Carevan Armidale will soon be up and running.
What benefit does Carevan have for the community?
This is manyfold. The primary effect is that many people and families have a solid, wholesome meal provided for them. Naturally, that is of great benefit. An increased sense of community on different levels; first for the people who are being provided the meals is the fact that, “Hey, somebody cares”. For the volunteers, it is the satisfaction of helping, but on a more subtle level it is the fact that the community is pulling together. As I said before, high schools are involved, and all of them have shown a positive commitment.
Their year nine home economic students prepare the meals, and once a term get out and witness some real life and see for the most part that they are not that badly off in their own lives. From John Brabant’s experience, this can have quite a profound, positive effect … Again, building the sense of community for Armidale.
How can people get involved? Volunteer?
Volunteers – we love them. We are truly looking for helpers for the many tasks that are carried out. There are the team leaders for the designated night drivers and people helping with the serving and cleaning up. For those who think they could not commit to a physical job, they may want to donate some funds, because naturally in any enterprise there are always ongoing costs. We have already had some great and generous sponsors come forward with money and equipment.
Tell us about the new equipment and how you acquired it?
Well as I said, John Brabant commenced his operation in Albury, which is a twin city to Wodonga. They originally purchased a van for each, but found they didn’t need the second van, so we were able to purchase the virtually fully fitted van from them.
We will only need a few larger items, like a generator, fridge, dishwasher, etc. for the van. John has also been in commercial talks with IGA as to what they can do in order to become more involved with the community. This is great timing, because they announced that they will put forward the monies for our van, “Carevan Armidale”. This is fabulous news and a great impetus to our programme. Grant McCarroll Ford is generously providing a tow vehicle and towbar. So we are away.