Adam and Matt's Story
Christmas at Melbourne Project 614
"I’m the hospitality coordinator so I run the kitchen and facilitate the volunteers that are in there. We make anywhere up to 600 meals a day.
I organise the volunteers in the kitchen plus the food that’s donated and purchasing any food to fill the gaps. About 80% of food we use is donated.
As well as our normal services we do a few Christmas meals. We do a big Christmas lunch a couple of weeks out from Christmas. That’s a three course meal for everyone.
We do about 430 for lunch that day. It’s grown bigger every year. It started at about 100. When we did that we thought it was amazing. We’ve gone from there and grown by 100 every year.
We actually use the whole building for it – the café, the foyer, and the temple area. The whole place is packed out. We use landing areas, anywhere we can put tables and chairs. When someone leaves, someone will often take their seat.
We invite everyone we’re connected to. We don’t discriminate, we let anyone and everyone come in. We have Santa, music, lollies, gifts for everyone. Everyone gets something.
We have a lot of people who are homeless, living on the street and doing it tough. Then we have guys who do have accommodation, they might even have money, but they don’t have friends or family and they’re lonely, so they come here. Then you’ve got the older community, people who are forgotten or left out, they’re lonely, so they come here because this is the one place they can celebrate with people. We also get international students who are away from their family and isolated here in Melbourne and don’t have anyone to connect with on Christmas Day.
It’s harder for people at Christmas time – if you’re alone, you really feel it at Christmas time".
"My role is Café Coordinator. So I look after the café and the volunteers and clientele. In the café there are about 13 – 14 volunteers and they’re all from different groups. Sometimes people from the corporate world and then student volunteers. We’re reliant on the volunteers - we couldn’t do it without them.
In the café we usually do about 100 for breakfast and 200 plus for lunch. It’s run entirely by the volunteers. We have two paid staff in the café who look after the clientele and service and volunteers and everything. But the volunteers do the grunt work – they clear dishes, wash them, plate food.
Then there's our Christmas lunch which as now grown to over 400 people. The kitchen that day is pretty intense. We start preparing the day before because there’s such a volume of food to do. Again we have volunteers who help out every year and make it possible.
The community involved with it is what makes it work – people just want to jump in. A few years ago we had a theatre production come in and perform for us.
We also have a lunch on Christmas Day with Collingwood Football Club at their centre in Richmond.
There was one time we had a mother escaping domestic violence and she said this was the first time she’d felt safe and celebrated Christmas in a long time. That was a few years ago now.
Even little things, we had one guy come in last year and we have a toy shop set up. He came into the café with his son and had something to eat and we said, come down and have a look at the presents. His kid grabbed a plastic cricket bat and wickets and the dad got so teary. He couldn’t buy his son a present, but he was overwhelmed that someone would.
Always seeing the need constantly is hard. We’re trying to eradicate it and the need that exists. You pour yourself into it all that you can but it seems to be always there. What I’ve learnt in my time here is that some people can’t move past certain points in their life and you just have to journey there with them wherever they’re at".
- Adam and Matt, Melbourne Project 614
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