Our stories

Our stories

Each day, there are many wonderful stories from our services and churches about how they are bringing the light of Christ into their communities and brining uplift to the lives of people in need.

Here are just a few stories about some of the lives we have positively impacted. You can read more stories from throughout 2017-18 in our Networking magazine.

Daniel's story

Young people exiting youth detention require a safe and secure home to go to upon their release.

For many young people, such as those who have ended up in detention following a period of homelessness, family breakdown or were in out-of-home care prior, they simply do not have a safe address to go to.

This was the case for Daniel*. Daniel was exiting youth detention, however was not able to be released until he could show that he had a stable place to live. Our Youth CONNECT Service was contacted regarding Daniel and a Case Manager was able to secure a unit for him, which he eagerly moved into on his release.

Since moving into the unit complex, Daniel has bonded with his neighbour, a gentleman who is acting as a mentor to him. They enjoy hanging out together, sharing meals and talking.

Daniel has also established a vegetable garden, and enjoys pottering in the garden and reaping the rewards of the fresh produce.
He continues to be supported by the Youth CONNECT Program and his Case Manager to build his life skills and strengthen his community connections as he transitions to adulthood.
 

Graham and Robyn's story

Graham & Robyn had just experienced a family tragedy and were on the verge of homelessness, trying desperately to find a home that they could afford, until they came across our affordable living development, Kurrajong Townhouses. “We are so grateful to have a roof over our heads and to call Kurrajong home,” Robyn said.

Paying high rent in the private market, they struggled to make ends meet.

Graham, in his early 70s would work for his son a few days a week to supplement their income.  However, he suffers from Emphysema and early stage Parkinson’s, which made working physically challenging and unsustainable.

But that wasn’t the only challenges they were facing. Just before Christmas they tragically lost their son to bowel cancer.

“My son told us he was dying and Graham said you’re not meant to go before me, this is not how it is supposed to go,” Robyn said.

Not long after, they were hit with another blow and received a notice from their landlord that they were to move out from their property as the owner had decided it was time to sell.

“That was our Christmas,” Graham said, as they faced the prospect of homelessness.

Desperate to find a new home, Graham drove all over Brisbane’s north viewing properties and putting in applications to try and find a new home. This was costing Graham a lot of money in fuel, which he struggled to afford having fallen on hard times.

“With the passing of our son and the stress of having to find a new place to live, we fell behind in our rent. We were fortunate to receive some support from the Department of Housing and Public Works to get back on top of our rental arrears,” Graham said.

In a desperate search to find a new home, Graham came across Churches of Christ Campus Moonah Mitchelton, which comprises seniors housing, retirement living and aged care on the one site, and enquired with the staff as to whether they could help.

“It was here I was given the number to call Churches of Christ’s Housing Services and the rest is history.

“When we received the call from Mark [Ferranri, Community Cohesion Coordinator] confirming that we were approved for the property at Kallangur, I just wanted to jump through the phone and kiss him.

We are so happy here, it’s a beautiful home and much more affordable.”

The couple of 53 years have four children and have remained positive and resilient despite facing so much adversity but have managed to maintain their sense of humour and laughter.

“We are so grateful to have a roof over our heads and to call Kurrajong home,” Robyn said.

 

Pat's story

Pat resident at Moonah Park Aged Care Service, started using the specially designed gym when she moved into the service. After 18 months, her physical abilities had significantly improved, along with her confidence and wellbeing.

Pat Leigh became a resident of Churches of Christ Care Moonah Park Aged Care Service in Mitchelton in 2017 after being diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder.

From the time she moved in, she started using the specially designed HUR (Helsinki University Research) gym equipment with the help of physiotherapists at the service.

Pat’s condition, multiple system atrophy, has been hard on partner and family, not knowing what’s going to happen. Pat was unable to remain living at home with her partner fulltime, as she is unable to be left alone.

“I just try to take one day at a time,” Pat said.

In Pat’s words:
“I was only able to move about using a wheelchair and had no stamina, with little expectation of improving because of the physical and neurological symptoms of multiple system atrophy, of which there was no recovery.
“One of the carers when I became a resident remembers that I was constantly falling. I had little hope.”
Pat uses the gym four times a week, which considering she hated going to the gym before she came to Moonah Park, is a mammoth effort.

“When I first started they wouldn’t let me come down by myself, I had to have a carer walk with me. And now, I guess they trust me enough,” Pat laughed.

Her new-found independence is thanks to the specially designed equipment and her joy at seeing her physical abilities improving.

“With the equipment—the weights, bikes, leg and arm and back and stomach toners—and by attending four time a week with the assistance and encouragement of [physiotherapists] Felicity and Jeremy, I have always felt welcomed, which all has helped my confidence and physical strength, which has been a strong motivation in my recovery. I enjoy attending the sessions,” she said.

“I like the bike and I like the weights. It is nice having the choice and I know that I can do different things.”

For Pat, and others who use the gym, it is more than a place to exercise, but a place to socialise, where it is not about competing with the person next to you, but encouraging them.

“John and I, we don’t know each other, but we sit next to each other and talk about different things.”

While she still may not be able to write in her beautiful cursive hand anymore, Pat is enjoying seeing the improvements, including her ability to move around her room without her walker, and walk around the service without a carer.

“It’s a big different in how I feel about myself.”  

Churches of Christ Care residential aged care services take a person-centred approach to care. The aim is for every resident to feel comfortable and safe, feel valued and that they belong and have meaningful things to do, and have opportunities to socialise and connect to the community. In essence, the approach, known as Positive Wellbeing, is not about managing decline but living life to the full.

Churches of Christ Care Moonah Park Aged Care Service is a 98-bed residential aged care service offering a range of personal care, therapies and accommodation on Brisbane’s north side.

Churches of Christ Care is one of the leading not-for-profit providers of residential aged care in Australia, operating 30 residential aged care services throughout Queensland (28) and Victoria (2).

 

Rivers Church of Christ's story

For those in our communities who are doing it tough, access to food, clean clothing and shelter is important. However, too often, this is the extent of our assistance. As we have all experienced in our hardest moments, the knowledge that somebody cares for us can be that crucial factor that helps us regain our spirits. We all want to feel valued, we all need purpose, and this is what Moreton Bay Community Matters is all about.

Every Thursday morning at Rivers Church of Christ, Kallangur, baskets of fresh food await visitors from near and far. The baskets are prepared by volunteers the day before and are all gone within half an hour of the 10am collection time. Yet, the happy chatter of locals and volunteers continues on for much longer because most of those who come to collect a basket do not come just for the food.

As Pastor Luke Skipper of Rivers Church of Christ explains, the aim of Moreton Bay Community Matters “is to provide holistic care to the community”.

“Often when people show care for the community they see the obvious physical needs [and] the social, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs go unmet.

“So we aim to provide a place of belonging, acceptance and value.”

Moreton Bay Community Matters began in April 2017 as a coffee meet-up for locals who felt socially isolated. From six volunteers to more than 30, from 40 food baskets donated each Thursday to a record 110, with bi-monthly Meal and Movie nights and a three hundred square metre community garden, the strength and impacts of this not-for-profit community group are being realised across Brisbane.

“We are starting to get referrals from organisations that, historically, churches would refer people to, like the Salvation Army, Encircle and the RSL Advocates,” said Pastor Skipper.

“We’ve even had referrals from hospitals, the police and the local State MP. All of them looking to refer those people and families to a community that really cares.

“We are also looking to partner with other local churches so we can pull more resources together, [and] to be community ministry in the area that all churches are welcome and encouraged to be involved with. Particularly churches that currently do not have community ministry of their own.”

For Dot, who recently moved to Australia from South Africa, Moreton Bay Community Matters is a movement, underpinned and driven by unconditional love.

“You come here and are accepted, no questions asked,” she said.

Dot arrived in Brisbane with her husband and their transition to a new life in a new country became demoralising as they both struggled to find work. As feelings of loneliness and hopelessness overcame her, Dot searched for purpose.  

“We worship at the Uniting Church, but I heard about what was going on [at Rivers] and I thought, I could volunteer and be part of that.”

With skills in hospitality, Dot is now in charge of organising the morning tea that runs alongside the Rivers Church of Christ food and clothing bank.

Dot said the number of people who come to use the bank and collect food hampers on Thursday mornings “has grown, and we need to get here earlier and earlier”.

The morning tea set-up, which was once just a few tables and chairs, now sprawls in café-style through the doors of the community hall and out onto the grass.

It is in this café setting that volunteers and Pastor Skipper can get to know the people who come to use the food and clothing bank.

“It’s here that people can easily access me if they wish to talk to a pastor or where their details can be taken by our volunteers for me to follow people up,” said Pastor Skipper.

“Likewise, our bi-monthly Meal and Movie nights are held with the intent for people to feel social inclusion and to provide information about other community service providers in the local area that people can access.

“And our community garden has also been developed with the intent of providing a place where people can regain a sense of purpose and dignity by doing something constructive and positive with their time,” said Pastor Skipper.

It is this genuine care – this love in action – that sets Moreton Bay Community Matters apart and draws people in, no matter their religious beliefs.  

As Dot has observed, “people come here and they feel love and compassion, and they are drawn to Christ that way”.

“We’re breaking down barriers and it’s incredible,” Dot said.