Last night, as I was finishing up the day I fell into conversation with someone who told me he was a businessman. He was delighted to hear that we were still open. He had just visited the area with his family, after a few decades of being away and was very interested in what we were doing now at Wayside. He peppered me with questions as he waved his family over to meet me. When I asked him how he knew us, he leant in and whispered, “I am only here because of you guys. I was on the streets at 13, fell into the wrong crowd and got into drugs. When that all fell apart, Wayside held me together. I was set on a path for self-destruction and it was only the love I got here that got me through.” He then wrapped his arms around me and gave me a hug that I will not soon forget. As he walked away I felt the deep sense that I probably would never see him again. Sometimes angels pay a visit to remind us of our purpose, and the impact we can have on lives. Everyone who walks through our doors has a deep longing for love and we know we’ve done our job when the love we provide ignites a spark to set them on their way.

I just received a beautiful message from someone’s mum today expressing her love for her child, and the gratitude and comfort she receives knowing that we have supported her son. Her son had encouraged her to visit Wayside and she finally had the opportunity to do so. Although she had not agreed with many of his choices she still recognised the goodness of his heart, and his many talents, rarely expressed. She also said that he thrived mostly when he felt needed, and this is what struck me the most. Our sense of connection is built on our ability to help others. I can imagine no greater pain than the heart of a parent who has lost connection to their precious child. I once sat by a hospital bed as I watched my daughter, feeling utterly powerless. I remind myself every day that everyone who walks through our doors has been someone’s child, and we try to extend the same unconditional love without strings attached.

This week we welcomed Dick Smith through our doors for a tour of Wayside. Dick has been a long-time supporter, and over his lifetime his contribution to Wayside has been well over the million dollar mark. He reminisced about the days when he used to come here in the 70’s when the building had been just a chapel, a coffee shop and a crisis centre – and he was very impressed as he walked through our new building to see how far we’d come. As we stepped into our Community Lunch, Dick was met with an outpouring of love from our homeless visitors as they stood up, clapped and cheered, and asked for photos. There is no doubt that Dick is everything we admire about being Australian. He is one of Australia’s living treasures, because he shares what he has with astonishing generosity.

As I get to the end of my first year as Pastor and CEO, and I look at the people in front of me who emerge from hot showers in warm, dry clothes, and those clutching hot cups of tea and plates of toast, I am so proud of what we do. We only have a week to go to reach our target of raising $1.2 million for the Winter Appeal, and we have a significant amount to go. I have the deepest gratitude to all who have given to us so far, and graciously ask for help from those who haven’t. We can only do what we do because of your generosity. If you can make a donation to our Winter Appeal, please do so here.

Thank you for being part of the Inner Circle.

Jon

 

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