“Sometimes, we forget how good we got it“.
She carried a pillow, a bag of bed linen and was proudly wearing her new shoes. She had a bag of clothes tucked under her arm and she was chatting to me while we waited for a fresh lot of Wagyu beef to finish sizzling on the grill.
A successful day’s shopping followed by a ladies lunch?
She was hauling the fruits of her labour at the BBQ for the homeless and I was volunteering food service.
She told me it was her first cooked meal for 4 weeks.
When Jerome from Dalton Hospitality got word that Grant Richards – known as ‘Grant the polite guy‘ – was organising yet another event to aid those who need a hand up, he was quick to jump on the volunteer wagon.
And as word spread, many Brisbane foodies got behind Jerome to pitch in and help.
For those meeting Grant for the first time, he looks like your average, cheery well dressed person. He is energetic. He’s slightly frenetic. He is constantly on the move. Like so many, Grant has a story. His, however, includes bad luck, homelessness and his ability to completely turn life around on itself.
Grant worked hard in charge of a kitchen in a restaurant. He had a wife, a daughter a home and responsibilities. In a blink of eye his life changed. Floor boards on an old stair way gave way. He spent nine months in and out of hospital, constantly in intense pain. As months passed, he lost his job, his marriage and his family. Homeless, jobless, he gave up on all he cared about and lived on the streets. At his lowest ebb, he says, he simply stopped caring.
Grant is now remarried (to his former wife), runs his owns business and spends an amazing amount of hours working to help and offer a ‘hand up’ to those who have fallen on hard times.
But today wasn’t about Grant.
He doesn’t know where they are now.
It was about the tall, thin man who came and asked for onions, 3 beef patties, 2 sausages and some carrot on his plate. Each time he would point to the desired pieces of food and where he wanted them to be. Nothing was allowed to touch. And when I say ‘each time’ – it’s because he had this same meal no less than 7 times over 4 hours.
By the end of the day we were old mates.
And this girl, who called me Aunty, in respect. This was her first ever new dress. She could not stop skipping (and eating cherries!)
There was the guy from New Zealand, who was flown over here by our Mining system on the promise of a job. Within 3 weeks the QLD mining industry had financial issues and made huge job cuts. He can’t afford to get home, has no job and is not eligible for Centrelink payments. He came along to see if he could help out.
And these guys, who gathered fresh clothing, shoes and toiletries to get them through another few weeks. And around 1000 others who came and went during the day via arranged transport systems so they could visit the food bank, collect some clothes and items, have a medical check before being transported back to their suburb.
Yeah, it was about them.
As the sun set over Musgrave Park, I think he spread a little bit of cheer over us as well.
Between us, our group feed over 1500 people at this event.
Full list of donators:
- Dalton Hospitality Chefs, food, coldrooms and more
- Belmont Roads Meat – Brett – @BelmontRoadMeat
- Audra James – @Audra_James toiletries
- AAA Financial – Dorene – aaafin.com.au cash donation for food items.
- @Piggyeatalot – clothes and cash
- Karen and John Reyment @TheWordonfood and @FoodLifeImages – both were helping on the day and Karen helped pass info onto her food contacts which resulted in donations from belmont road meats and chouquette patisserie
- Chouquette Patisserie new farm – bread and pastries
- Merlo Coffee Bowen Hills / Catherine Michael Marketing Director – 480 bottles of water.
- Yelp! Brisbane – Lani Pauli @LaniPauli @YelpBrisbane – 200 bottles of water
- Trent of Bakers Delight Newmarket – fresh sliced bread.
- Perry’s Party Hire Redcliffe – use of 150 chairs. https://www.facebook.com/PerrysPartyHire
- @YangWong – tables
- Nikos 2 marquees
- Ross Gordon Electrical Services– transported chairs, donated use of trestle tables.
- Amelia @_liquidity – Liquidity Marketing – organising help
- Baker’s Delight – bread
- Flour and Chocolate – bread and pastries
- warehouseshopping.net – bottled water
- Knitting for the needy provided blankets and woollen garments
- Footpath Library
- Judy (Swat) Tan – boxes of fruit