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Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
Mini Vinnies has maxi impact
BY HELENE O'NEILL
Some comments from our Patrons.
"This venue is extremely friendly and all who attend are caring.
We look forward to our Thursday outing to meet with our friends
at the Newcastle Elderly Citizens Centre. The catering staff do
a magnificent job and are obliging and helpful. The venue is
central and very accommodating and is close to bus and other
Newcastle Elderly Citizens Centre
The aims of the centre are -- 1) To provide a safe, welcoming
environment offering friendship, companionship and social
interaction for older people and younger people with
disabilities. 2) To provide a nourishing hot meal at a reasonable
price. 3) To provide respite for Carers of older people and
adults with disabilities. 4) To provide information, support and
advocacy for our patrons and to link them to other services
The Centre is located in the middle of Newcastle behind the
shopping mall in Laing Street, under the King Street carpark.
The centre is open Monday to Friday between the hours of
9am to 2.30pm. Morning tea is served from 10am and lunch
at 12 noon.
The centre provides morning tea of freshly made scones or
sandwiches and a hot main meal with dessert, tea and coffee.
The menu is changed regularly to provide variety and caters
for special dietary requirements. The centre has a large dining
/ activities room which can hold up to 90 people. It has
disabled access and a wheelchair accessible toilet. We also
have a sick bay/room.
The centre is staffed by a Co-ordinator, other paid staff and
a number of Volunteers. The centre recognises the valuable
contribution made by Volunteers some of whom have worked
at the centre for many years.
Activities at the centre include Musical Bingo on most
Thursdays which is very popular. On a regular basis other
entertainers perform at the centre. Special functions such
as Christmas in July, Octoberfest and Christmas Parties are
held regularly through the year and are very popular. Cards
and other games are available and groups of Patrons get
together to enjoy themselves. There is always the buzz of gentle
conversation and plenty of laughter. Magazines and a small
library are available to borrow or exchange. A Gentle Exercise
programme is offered once a week to interested Patrons.
Footcare is available monthly for our Patrons (bookings are
essential). We are always open to ideas from our Patrons and
are willing to implement anything that would be of benefit.
Ph: 4961 2686
"I come every day, it is my lifeline".
"Good basic, healthy meals. Company to talk to
and share interests, opinions and new ideas.
I attend two to three times a week.".
" I've been coming here for twenty years".
"It feels like a second home".
For enquiries please phone
I am a better person since joining Mini
Vinnies. Jack, 11, Corpus Christi School,
I think Mini Vinnies is about helping other
people and making them feel loved and
happy in a special way. Manaya, 12, St
Peter's Primary, Stockton.
Through Mini Vinnies, I have become aware
of the feelings and needs of others. Also
it's fun to be involved with my friends as we
help our community. Emmanuela, 10, St
Therese's Primary, New Lambton.
What is this Mini Vinnies?
Whilst it is universally known that the St
Vincent de Paul Society is a Catholic
organisation that aspires to live the Gospel
message by serving Christ in the poor
with love, respect, justice and joy, the
aspirations of a Mini Vinnies Group may not
be as well known.
Mini Vinnies is a structured group of
primary students who meet with the
guidance of staff to discuss and organise
ways to help others in need, both within
their own school community and beyond.
The group provides an opportunity for
students to put their faith into action and
actively co-ordinate and participate in
volunteer-driven projects, events and
initiatives as they consider and reflect on
the needs of those less fortunate in their
Mini Vinnies groups are encouraged
to make a difference to issues they
identify and feel passionate about. The
ultimate aims are to assist those who are
marginalised, discriminated against and
In the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-
Newcastle there is a tremendous
groundswell of students wanting to be a
part of this movement and Mini Vinnies
is active in many schools. Students elect
office-bearers including the president,
vice president, secretary and publicity
officers. There is also a staff member or
co-ordinator who supports the group and
links staff and students.
The Society's already-established initiatives
and appeals provide a great starting point.
The Winter Appeal, school sleepover,
Christmas appeal, assist a
student, volunteering and lobbying
are some of the ways Mini Vinnies
gets involved and also links to the
Society within the parish.
Whilst schools adopt varying
approaches, there is always a 'kids
spin' on the established initiatives
through 'out of uniform' days
or pyjama days, scarf, socks and
beanies days, cake and ice cream stalls
and movie days.
Some of the larger schools' groups are
divided into interest groups including a
research group that traces the history of
the founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam,
and a liturgy group that prepares formation
Most Mini Vinnies events in schools ask
the entire school population for a gold coin
donation, teaching students to give to the
needy without expecting something in
return -- that is, something other than joy,
love, respect and happiness.
The passion of the co-ordinator is best
summed up in the words of Jenny
Anastasia Kinniard (left) and Ella Koen
participated enthusiastically in Scarf and Hat
Day at St John's Primary, Lambton.
Harrison of St John's Lambton: "An amazing
opportunity for our students to put what they
learn in the Religion classroom into practice
-- they are living out their faith within their
In 2013 it is refreshing to know that students
have a strong sense of social justice and
want to help local people. It's as if they
have heard the words of Nelson Mandela
who believes, "...poverty is not natural. And
overcoming poverty is not a gesture of
charity. It is an act of justice."
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