Final AVSSC Gathering
Pictured below are the leaders which make up the Auckland Vinnies Secondary Schools Council (AVSSC). When asked eight months ago what their understanding of the Vincentian charism was, the room sat in unnerving silence. Fast-track to the month of September at their final gathering, and their presence communicates anything but. What began as a mixed sense of excitement, anxiety and hope; soon unfolded into moments of unforgettable insight and learning. The final gathering of these leaders was an opportunity to feedback their differing experiences and what they learnt about the Vincentian charism. As leaders, they have heeded the call to guide and mentor their respective school groups in service works throughout the community. The feedback was enriched by the insight gained by experiences in serving the vulnerable and marginalised in society. Tales and narratives which were shared mirrored those of the Vincentian founders 200 years prior, a poignant reminder that the Society of St Vincent de Paul is grounded and sustained for the many years to come. The youth team are thankful to have been a part of their formation for the last eight gatherings. As the term unfolds further, these young leaders go onwards to prepare for end of year examinations and the wrap up of their service works for the year.
Cooking at Ronald McDonald House
Tasked with maintaining the wellbeing of families when a child is in a New Zealand hospital away from home, the Ronald McDonald House provides a haven for healing to be nurtured. Families come to the House in Auckland from across New Zealand. Though the average length of stay is seven days, many families will to stay for weeks and months on end. The Houses provide a home away from home, offering families a safe haven to retreat to, after a long day on the ward.
As part of taking care of the practical things in life, the Ronald McDonald House relies on volunteers to help cook meals throughout the year. This year, two Vinnies collectives – The Young Adults and Sancta Maria College both took a turn each in cooking up a bulk meal to support the families residing in the housing units. With scrumptious food and varied entertainment, these young men and women created an escape from the clinical world of medicine, to take comfort in the familiarity and routine of a home-like environment. Both groups put their teams of master chefs together, fundraised, planned the meal and made it a night that kept families’ spirits high so they could continue supporting their child in hospital. There was plenty of left-overs to go around, giving families who missed out on the night the flexibility of eating a meal without losing precious time preparing it.
Cans for Christmas
The Society of St Vincent de Paul woulsd like to take this time to give thanks to the numerous schools, students and families for contributing towards the Cans for Christmas food drive throughout the last month. This initiative was spearheaded by Billy Hadnett and Michael Mullin, two secondary school teachers in Auckland.
Over 21,000 cans were collected to support families in need across Auckland. We also want to acknowledge the helping hands of students from St. Paul’s College for making light work of those boxes.
Thank you on behalf of the many families the Society of St Vincent de Paul seek to assist.
Tamariki Day: Picnic for Kids
As an annual event, the Tamariki Day is a picnic hosted by St Peter’s and Marist College for children under care. A group of students from both schools prepared a day full of sports games, painting, arts and crafts; as well as an extensive banquet table. The air was soon filled with screams of joy and laughter as the children came through the doors. At the end of the hall, the caregivers relaxed with a cup of tea and chatted with some of the Vinnies Youth Team.
Many of these caregivers look after anywhere between one and eight children at a time, and so the opportunity to sit back was well received. There are lots of different ways children and young people come into care. Usually there’s time to plan how this will happen. For example, a decision might be made at a family group conference that it’s best for them to live with their aunty, or in another caring environment. Sometimes the decision for a child to live with someone else happens quickly, because there has been an incident or emergency situation where the state is needed to work quickly to make sure they are safe. Each situation is different. But the focus of the picnic has, and always will be as a platform for youth to enjoy a day filled with positive socialisation and new connections. As the picnic came to a close, the children bid their farewells and went home exhausted and happy. The caregivers were in awe of the students’ energy throughout the day – hosting over 80 young children was no easy feat but all were grateful for the opportunity to connect with one another.
New Beginnings: First Vinnies Project by Marcellin College
There was a sense of excitement amongst the Vinnies of Marcellin College, as they finished their classes for the day and swapped their books for an apron. As a new schools group that joined Vinnies Youth in 2018, these young men and women chose to run a cooking project to feed local families in the community.
“We wanted to do this because they deserve better… They Matter to us”, says one of the students as they reflected on the experience afterwards. In the space of a couple hours, these students were able to prepare 110 meals, ready to distribute to families in need. Confident that their first service project as a Vinnies group was a success, the collective looks forward to building upon their experiences and seeking more opportunities to serve.
Homeless Sleepout Experience
In July of 2017, the Auckland Council put the city’s homeless number at 23,409 – a statistic that has grown by more than 3000 since 2014. Looking beyond the numbers, the Vinnies of De La Salle College opted to take their learning one step further and sleep it rough for one night. The immersion experience proved cold and miserable, with many of the students equipped with only a single sleeping bag and a few sheets of cardboard to keep them warm for the night.
“This is the reality for many who don’t have a place to call home”, says Bob Savea; one of the Youth Team members present on the night. The experience required the students to build shelters and learn and share reflection about homelessness. Each groups’ presentation was as poignant as the last, and remained that way even into the early hours of the morning. During their dawn reflection, the participants shared honestly about their struggle to find sleep, how much they had taken for granted, and how they sought to apply their learnings into future service programmes. Recognising homelessness as more than a statistic, these young men left the retreat with a stronger sense of what it feels like to be without a place to call home.
Recently we were honoured to be approached by Yara Richmond and Adrian Mui Senior, advisors of the Northern Region of Ministry of Pacific Peoples to provide a platform for Pasifika youth leaders to engage with one another. The Ministry for Pacific Peoples is the Crown’s principal advisor on policies and interventions that improve outcomes for Pacific Peoples. Across the Vinnies Youth of Auckland, there are many pasifika in leadership positions within high schools and tertiary collectives, and so the evening provided an opportunity to bring voice to the journey of leadership and care. The subject matter for the gathering was success, what that looked like for pacifika people and how this was reflected through the pipeline from early childhood education, to schooling, tertiary education and finally the workforce, entrepreneurship and their own families.
Cooking for the Community
Throughout the term, the Vinnies of both Carmel and Rosmini College have chosen to explore the concept of homelessness. There are many reasons why people become homeless and the issue is complex. Some homeless people are living with mental illness and/or addictions, while others are not. However, homelessness is frequently a result of being socially, emotionally and physically isolated from networks that many of us take for granted. With this knowledge gained, the Vinnies of the two colleges cooked a bulk meal for distribution at Auckland City Mission. The Mission is one of the few remaining social service providers in Auckland’s inner city and one of our key focus areas is the support of those who are homeless, especially those sleeping rough on Auckland’s inner-city streets. With the help of college staff, the students made short work of the meal and were soon dropping it off in time for dinner at the mission.
Feast Mass of St Vincent de Paul
At the end of September, Vinnies Youth Auckland hosted the Diocesan Youth Mass. The theme was “Live in Me” and was celebrated by Monsignor Bernard Kiely. The event also coincided with the Feast Mass of St Vincent de Paul, with less than 1000 coming together at the St Patrick’s Cathedral.
The youth presented a moving animation of the Mass’s theme, bringing the messages of the homily to life through dance and song. It was a poignant Mass filled with music, prayer, and recognition of the life of St Vincent de Paul.
Rise For Climate!
During the month of August, the Vinnies Team have been working along side climate warriors from 350 Pacific in the hopes of raising awareness for the growing problems affecting our climate. 350 Pacific is a youth led network who works with communities to help fight against the climate change happening within the pacific islands. This month, both 350 Pacific and Vinnies teamed up to prepare for a hikoi (march) that will be happening on the 8th September by painting and preparing banners.
The hope for this is march is to raise awareness as a community on the negative impact fossil fuels have on our planet, especially in the pacific islands.
Banners being painted at our Kingsland Vinnies Shop by both Climate Warriors and Vinnies.
Banners designed by the Vinnies from out in West.
A Sweet way to Raise Awareness!
As a way of representing Pink Day at their school, the girls from Carmel College had decided to raise awareness for those who are suffering from breast cancer. Dressed all in pink, these Vinnies leaders spent hours making and prepping pink candy floss as a creative way of raising this awareness. Both students and leaders are confident when they say that the candy floss was a huge hit!
South Side Cook Ups
At the St Vincent de Paul Centre in Otahuhu, students from De La Selle College and McAuley Highschool are currently running service projects in order to provide for families who are in need. Each week, each school on different days offer their time after school to prepare and cook meals which would later be distributed to families when they come in seeking food parcels. Under the supervision of South Vinnies President Tonia Greatbatch, these meals keep the food bank stocked until these students come back to do it all over again.
McAuley Highschool students prepping curryd on rice, ready to be picked up
The aim of this project is to help the staff out in Otahuhu with the high demands they face every day and to also make sure that there are quick and easy meals ready for pick up when people come through.
De La Selle students cooking beef stews and fried rice ready to be stored until needed.
Vinnies YADS Leader Retreat
In the final weeks of August, our Vinnies were fortunate enough to run a retreat for our Young Adult leaders or “YADS” for short. It was a time to take a step back from the work load of life and to reflect on the journey that each leader has taken this year. The day consisted of discussion, first taking time to stand and reflect on what bought each individual to the retreat that day. From there, it became a larger focus on who each person was and what patterns in their life which led them to be who they are that day.
The day was then concluded with soulful songs and praise and a few challenges that each person took on with the hope of getting them out of their comfort zone. Teachings, lessons, and realisations were absorbed by each person at the retreat with everyone leaving with this statement:
It is the pattern of our past and the intensities of a moment in time that shape our present and therefore, our future.
Over the last few months, members of the Young Adult Vinnies group have heeded the call to assist in a number of ministries around Auckland. As a weekly occurrence, many have been able to create significant connections with those whom they serve.
Groups that visit the prison on Sundays facilitate a liturgy of the word alongside many other collectives. They also provide a space for those who are incarcerated to share a part of their story in relation to the reading. With hymn and prayer, the collective brings a sense of peace and calm within the confines of the correction facility walls. Hospital Ministry invites Vinnies members to assist in taking patients to and from morning mass at Auckland Hospital each week. Many patients have reflected that simply having someone to talk to along the way to Mass has made their time in Hospital much easier. Amidst the healing and recovery process, this provides an invaluable opportunity for all to connect in enjoy one another’s company.
Simultaneously on the other side of the city, Young Adult Vinnies assist in serving tea and coffee to people who come through Auckland City Mission. For those without a place to call home, the shelter afforded by the Mission provides a warm respite from the cold and wet weather outside. Aside from serving tea and coffee, those involved have steadily gained trust in one another – to the point where humor and bubbly greetings has become the starting point of every conversation. In each of the above service projects, people are held at the forefront. It is in this frame of mind that the Vinnies involved have come to a deeper understanding of the Vincentian charism and the significance of positive socialization through face to face contact.
Preparing for Upcoming Initiatives
Throughout the year Vinnies from Liston and St Dominic’s College have been fundraising for their annual Ranui Caravan Park Christmas Fun Day. Amidst their focus on different projects, events and initiatives, this preparation will allow them to ensure that families in need are able to celebrate Christmas. There has been a lot of feedback from the caregivers of the children throughout the years, and all of it is positive. Both Junior and Senior students have stepped up since and did the Colleges proud, with many leadership qualities coming to the forefront along the way.
North Regional Gathering
Recently the Vinnies of Carmel and Rosmini College came together for a regional gathering. In the space of a few short hours, the collective shared with one another what drew them to the Vincentian charism and how they choose to live it out. The group also unpacked what home means to them, and how they can create a space of belonging for those they serve. This included an exploration of homelessness and the importance of mindfulness when planning projects for the community.
As part of the Vinnies Youth Programme, schools that are involved receive regular input sessions for education and formative purposes. These are designed to inform their service works throughout the year. Recently, a series of schools have undertaken the exploration of Social Exclusion – one of many topics the Vinnies Youth Team unpack in schools. Teachings have been focused particularly around real stories of those we work with, the importance of upholding dignity and learning specific empathy tools. These are all promoted so as to provide students with a deeper understanding of how they can best serve those on the margins of society.
In addition, other schools have chosen to focus on homelessness, alongside participation in projects to support those who go without. During the input session students explore the three types of homelessness: Those who sleep it rough on the street, those moving from house to house such as couch surfers, and lastly those who are in temporary conditions such as boarding houses or hostels. These visits are important as they provide the backbone for Vinnies to see the situation and reflect upon it before acting.
Every Bit Counts: Students Assisting at Kingsland SVdP
Volunteering at the Vinnies Centre afterschool goes a long way in supporting the day staff and volunteers. Each week, four schools rotate to assist at the opshop and foodbank of Vinnies in Kingsland. Tasks that they may be involved in are maintaining the stock of clothing for the opshop, unloading donations from generous donors and creating food parcels for those in need. Without their assistance we would not be able to aid the hundreds of families who come through our doors. After a long day of serving clients and customers, these school volunteers provide a breath of fresh air and energy to keep the team going.
Gathering As One Family: AVSSC Meeting
Recently the Auckland Vinnies Secondary Schools Council (AVSSC) gathered for their second to last meeting for the year. These young men and women have been receiving leadership and formation over the past eight months, and so the evening was an opportunity to reflect on the journey so far. The collective viewed a short clip which detailed their actions for those in need.
Fatigued as the students were from juggling a number of realities, they were thankful for the opportunity to take a step back and look at their service works and its impact upon society. Through reflective process they were able to feedback the ways in which service resonated with them and how they hope to use the teachings in future.
United in Faith and Mission
We were privileged to connect in with Olivia, Youth Coordinator from Christchurch, Stephanie, Queensland State Youth Manager and Amanda, State Youth Coordinator from Australia over the course of four days. Though our time together was short, they wasted no time getting in and amongst the service projects and events that Vinnies Youth Auckland had to offer. They attended school visitations, AVSSC and regional Vinnies gatherings, and even put together an assortment of food parcels and toiletry packs for families.
Together As One: A Concert by Vinnies Young Adults
The number of families seeking support from SVdP foodbanks over the last few months has continued to the rise in the wake of the winter season. It therefore continues to fall upon the generosity of the community and drive of our volunteers to help meet the need for nutritional food sources. Moved with a passion to express their talents and provide a platform for others to do the same; the Young Adults Vinnies hosted a concert Fundraiser for our winter appeal to support families in need.
Young men and women from across Auckland gathered for an evening of sharing talent. The acts were varied and plentiful – from strong ballads by Klapa Samoana to the gentle and heartfelt spoken word and dances by some of the younger students. Each in turn shared an aspect of what it meant to feel solidarity.
Students Make Recipes for Foodparcels
Following a successful school term with food drives and afterschool care support programmes, the Vinnies of Carmel College sought to go one step further and create personalised recipe ideas for food parcels. These recipes were based on the contents of a typical SVdP foodparcel, a package that contains enough food to feed a family of four for up to four days. This proved an insightful experience for the students involved as it taught them the reality of scarce resources and the differing needs of those whom they serve.
Staying Connected: A Vincentian Calling
Throughout the year each school connected to the Vinnies Youth Programme receive regular input sessions from the Youth Team. The purpose of these visits are to eprovide the neccessary tools for awareness of social issues within the community. Sacred Heart College gathered for their first meeting this term, this time with a focus towards Social Exclusion. This theme seeks to explore the importance of upholding the dignity others – whether on the sports field, the classroom, or service projects and other programmes involving people.
In looking at the dynamics of their own everyday interactions, these young men become better equipped at looking at the wider community with a broader perspective. Following this school input session, the students plan to resume their afterschool programmes at the local primary school, as well as to run a food drive for the Auckland City Mission.
World Youth Day Auckland Experience
An annual event, the World Youth Day Auckland (WYD) Experience emmulates the international encounter with the Pope, which is typically celebrated every three years in a different country. The most recent WYD was celebrated in Krakow (Poland) in August 2016. This is a continuation of the reflections begun by Pope Francis for the last three World Youth Days: a focus on the Beatitudes from the Bible. Each year, the Auckland event is hosted by the Auckland Catholic Youth Ministry team of the Auckland Diocese.
On this occasion, youth groups from across Auckland and abroad gathered for a weekend of activities, praise and worship. The weekend was a significant event for the Vinnies Youth Programme, as it provided a platform to link like-minded individuals with one another. As part of the journey, the Vinnies Youth Auckland took part in a regional gathering to learn about the needs of the community and the teachings of their faith on the first day.
The second day was riddled with rain, but this did not deter hundreds of young men and women from taking part in a pilgrim walk and later experiencing a combination of youth testmonies of faith journeys, as well as a poignant mass celebrated by the Bishop Pat Dunn and priests of the Auckland Diocese.
Community Fundraiser a Hit!
Going back in time, the Vinnies from Rathgar Road held a 90’s Themed Social at Holy Cross Henderson to raise funds for Timor Leste through the help of Caritas. The project aims to improve the well-being of rural Timorese women by supporting them to develop and make products for sale in seven districts in Timor-Leste. The night involved a wide variety of 90’s attire and music which bought over 150+ people for dancing and an opportunity to connect.
Kiwi Harvest Supporting St. Vinnies Foodbanks
We are truly grateful to receive regular visits from KiwiHarvest, an organisation that collects good food before it goes to waste and distributes it to those in need to nourish the wider community. The significance of these donations are that they allow the foodbank to remain well stocked; particularly in vegetables and dairy products that contain many essential nutrients to sustain the families we serve. We are thankful for this opportunity as they provide an innovative way for businesses to redistribute excess good food.
Serving the People: Vinnies Style!
As the year unfolds, the various ministries continue to grow across Auckland. Amidst university exams, employment and other commitments, many young men and women have heeded the call to serve their fellow brother and sister in need. These include weekly prison visitations to those who are incarcerated, supporting those in care at the hospital, as well as serving tea and coffee to those in care at the hospital. The bonds formed in each of these ministries have continued to foster a sense of belonging and community; an opportunity to learn from one another.
Each Sunday, a group of Vinnies Youth have the opportunity to visit those incarcerated within Mt Eden Prison. The group lead a Liturgy of the Word in up to two prison wings at a time. Though the time is short, the opportunity for conversation and connection provides a welcome respite from the harsh reality of isolation. Amidst the brokenness and vulnerability, all feel a sense of calm and welcoming when a safe space is created by the Vinnies.
Auckland City Mission Drop-In Volunteers
On a Saturday and Sunday, the Vinnies serve tea, coffee and meals to those residing at Auckland City Mission. This venue is a haven for those sleeping it rough, or seeking repsite from the cold weather outside. The Vinnies work to develop face to face connections with the people who come through the door. What often begins as nervous shuffles and muted actions, soon turns into laughter and conversation with all who are present.
Though the journey is short between a patients’ room and the chapel, the conversations which take place in the corridor provide a sense of positivity that is well receieved by all. Before Mass on Sunday, Vinnies have the opportunity to guide patients at Auckland Hospital to and from their rooms. The simple act of being able to attend the Mass is significant for those that go as they seek to recover and rehabilitate themselves.
Stepping into the Reality
Amidst the busyness of service projects, Vinnies youth have also partaken in retreats to take a step back and gain a sense of who they are in relation to themselves, others and God. Colleges each held a retreat in line with a specific theme, from which they could propel themselves towards making better informed service works. Students could choose whether the experience was an afterschool session, a whole day or overnight. No matter the length, these young men and women gained a deeper sense of their call to serve and how they can go about acheiving this in practical ways.
St Dominic’s & Liston College Homelessness Retreat
St Peter’s College Homelessness Retreat
Sancta Maria Afterschool Retreat
Turning Clocks into Food
A generous donation of electronic clocks were donated to the Op Shop at Kingsland on Wednesday from the staff at Sky City. The money raised from selling these clocks will be put towards stocking the food bank. Three clocks sold can make up one food parcel which is able to feed a family for 4 days.