St Finbar's Glenbrook Parish

CatholicCare opens Springwood Drop-In Centre


Springwood Drop-In Centre News Story
At the opening are (from left): Prof Trevor Parmenter, Chief of Operations & Finance Geoff Officer, Fr Arthur Bridge, Fr Peter Williams, Director of Administrative Services Joe Cashman and Sr Johanna Conway RSM.
Photography: Alfred Boudib

By Virginia Knight

A permanent community hub that will serve the people of the Blue Mountains has been established at Springwood by CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta.

The centre is planned to be a community hub for welfare services as part of the operations of CatholicCare and will include counselling services for individuals, children, relationships, financial issues and problem gambling, as well as providing bushfire case-management.

The Diocesan Administrator, Very Rev Peter Williams, presided at the opening and blessing of the Springwood Drop-In Centre on 24 April.

In his address, Fr Peter reflected that while as many as 1 million people are reported to be living below the poverty line in Australia, impoverishment was more than a lack of money or physical property.

“The message from the Church is to reach out to the impoverished,” he said. “Tragically, the 2013 bushfires devastated parts of the Blue Mountains and the people who were impacted are still recovering as a result of these terrible fires.

“As well as providing practical assistance, the Springwood centre aims to engage with those impoverished in spirit to help them rebuild their lives.

“Although it came about from a tragedy, this is the right place for us to be as an effective and solid, physical presence in this community, saying ‘We are here to reach out to the people of the Blue Mountains.’”

Springwood Drop-In Centre News Story
John Kelly and Community Outreach Worker Celia Vagg.
Photography: Alfred Boudib

The centre is planned to be a community hub for welfare services as part of the operations of CatholicCare and will include counselling services for relationships and problem gambling.

People who are in need of assistance are encouraged to come to the centre, which can also provide referrals to other support services.

“In the release of the Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Parramatta, Faith in Our Future, the people of this community were promised a substantial presence of CatholicCare in the Blue Mountains, which had not been present to that point,” Fr Peter said.

“Delivering an outcome of the pastoral plan to establish a social service hub on behalf of the Diocese is the beginning of a developing presence as we identify more needs and seek to meet them.”

Prof Emeritus Trevor Parmenter, a member of the CatholicCare Council, said the establishment of a presence in the mountains was long overdue.

“This centre is going to extend the work of CatholicCare and in so doing will help to build community spirit,” he said. “To help people become resilient is what our work is all about, by helping members of the community to support each other.”

The centre has been dedicated in honour of the late Ray Reid, founding Director of CatholicCare Social Services (Centacare Parramatta as it then was).

Springwood Drop-In Centre News Story
Problem Gambling Counsellor Shaila Kapoor and Financial Counsellor Sharon Yeh. Photography: Alfred Boudib

In unveiling the plaque the Council’s Acting Chairman, Rev Dr Arthur Bridge AM, praised Ray Reid as the most professional, kind and generous of men, whose skills in marriage and relationship counselling were renowned in the community.

“At any point in a marriage journey where a relationship was falling apart, Ray was always there,” he said. “With his skill and ability to readily identify the cracks in a relationship and make it work again and again for many couples, he never tired of caring for people who showed a need in their relationships.”

Fr Peter congratulated all involving in establishing the centre. “We hope it will become a centre where people feel happy to ‘drop in’ even if it is just to say ‘hello’ without a particular need,” he said.

The Executive Director of CatholicCare, John Kelly, thanked the volunteers for their assistance in outfitting the premises and invited everyone to view the artworks by local artists featuring landscapes and flora of the Blue Mountains.

Two massive canvasses entitled the Wall of Words feature colourful inscriptions by members of the community. They are filled with reflections on what people have been through and what they wish for the future.

One of the residents, Colleen McHardy, said: “There is a great need in our society for help and support. Sharing our stories is so important. ”

CatholicCare’s Drop-In Centre is at Shop 3, 163 Macquarie Road, Springwood, adjacent to Blooms Chemist. Inquiries tel (02) 4751 4956.

View Springwood Drop-In Centre Opening Photo Gallery

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