ORIGINALLY from Europe, Minako is a local woman, who regularly visits the car park coffee station at the back of Lutfiyes Shish Kebab to collect things like clothing and footwear from the pile of readily available community donations. They’re the type of items that get damp and wet on the cold nights typical of this time of year, she tells me and are often simply easier to replace than launder.
“A load of washing costs me around $4 a load at the laundry mat, if I have to choose between that and a meal; well you know what I’d choose,” she said without question, squarely looking me in the eyes – I did.
No stranger to doing it tough, Minako spoke candidly of her experiences, “I live on about $260 a fortnight after the bills are paid.” She added context by explaining that she often doesn’t feel safe where she resides, but the alternative, no roof at all… “It’s like a nightmare. You really have no idea, you have to live it to know.”
Late in May, The Adviser ran a story on the homelessness crisis in the region and the increasing volume of people accessing local support services. Many community members responded, delivering donations of clothing, blankets and footwear to the dedicated space at the back of Lutfiyes.
People Supporting People founder and business owner of Lutfiyes, Azem Elmaz acknowledged the recent generosity of the community saying, “I want to say thank you to everyone, God bless you, that’s why we keep doing what we do.”
At the core of the story, the moral issue has very obviously been felt within the community, with actions driven by compassion and empathy providing a ripple effect.
One such example is a forthcoming community luncheon event organised by City of Greater Shepparton Council Mayor, Cr Kim O’Keeffe in conjunction with The Adviser, Shepparton Foodshare, the Salvation Army and Lutfiyes.
The community luncheon will take place at the Sherbourne Terrace and is designed to raise awareness around the high numbers of homelessness in the region.
Cr O’Keeffe said that she saw a lot of people already doing incredible things to fight homelessness locally and that the luncheon hopes to bring everyone in the community together for a positive outcome.
“The fundraiser is an event to recognise homelessness and come together as a community to get more involved, because when we come together collaboratively, our voices get louder” she said.
“I get a lot of people in the community asking about how they can help, which is great! I hope the event will inform the region of what’s currently happening, what’s ahead, and what still needs to happen.”
The fundraiser for the homeless and vulnerable will be held on Sunday, July 28 at the Sherbourne Terrace, 12pm – 3:30pm. Tickets are $50 and includes light lunch, drink on arrival, lucky door prizes and activities.