When a group of good-hearted locals came together during the 2011 Brisbane floods to help survivors return to their homes, many of them discovered a true passion for helping those in need. Â Deciding to band together, âMaking a Differenceâ was formed, and since then the local group have been helping out wherever they can â particularly with the homeless community.
Words: Jas Rawlinson
Speaking with Denise from âMaking a Difference (MAD),â she explained to me their passion for helping the communityÂ âÂ from the homeless to survivors of domestic abuse âÂ with everyday essentials. â[We have a] passion for the homeless and we provide [them with] backpacks full of toiletries, snacks, blankets and scarves,â she said. âWe literally have provided thousands of backpacks since we began in 2012, and have also assisted survivors of domestic violence with household goods. We never judge a person’s circumstances, as we know being homeless is only two pay packets away if something goes haywire.â
The group also get together regularly at âStreet Feedâ events, and have been blown away by the generosity of their supporters, who give without expecting anything in return. âTo participate in a street feed and see their faces when you hand them a backpack â words cannot describe,â shared Denise. â…time after time [our supporters] keep giving. Theyâre not looking for accolades, they just want to help.â
To find out more about how you can help, head to facebook.com/MakingaDifferenceBrisbane
Q&A with Denise, from Making a Difference
WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION TO START âMAKING A DIFFERENCEâ BEGIN, AND WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR?
Many of the MaD team met during the 2011 floods, working in Community groups [that were] helping survivors return to their homes. We sourced furniture, household goods and clothing, and also offered support where needed. When the need for our help was over, a few of us decided we might be able to help others in the community – such as victims of domestic violence and the homeless. Our journey so far has been amazing. We have seen the best and the very worst of people however we have never been discouraged. Our support from ‘likers’ of our [Facebook] page is nothing less than incredible and without them we couldnât achieve what we do.
WHAT IS THE MISSION OF âMAKING A DIFFERENCEâ?
Our mission is to support and provide help for anyone in need – our passion is the homeless and we provide a back pack full of toiletries, snacks, blankets, scarves etc. We have literally provided thousands of backpacks since we began in 2012 and assisted survivors of domestic violence with household goods. We also assist many other community groups that have no funding. We all work together as a team to assist those who are unable to help themselves; we never judge a personâs circumstances, as we know being homeless is only two pay packets away if something goes haywire.
HOW DO YOU AIM TO HELP LOCALS IN THE COMMUNITY WHO ARE HOMELESS?
We have a network of Community Groups which keep in constant contact and we all help each other.Â We assist with street feeds and also assist some of the better known Charities that are hands on with helping the homeless.
IS IT BETTER FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO DONATE GOODS RATHER THAN MONEY? WHAT SORT OF GOODS ARE NEEDED AND HOW ARE THEY USED?
We do not accept money. [Instead we] post up on our Facebook page what our needs are; for example if we get a client that needs household items we post up what is required, and we usually have a huge response [through the page].Â We pick up the donations, sort and then deliver to the client. We hold continual toiletry appeals throughout the year and have a core list of items that go into the backpacks. Once received toiletries are sorted. placed in the back packs and handed out to the homeless.
AS WE APPROACH CHRISTMAS, HOW CAN LOCALS MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF HOMELESS OR OTHER DISADVANTAGED MEN AND WOMEN?
We do a special Christmas appeal – either for toiletries, non perishable food and toys – and these are distributed amongst the other groups and the homeless.
WHAT IS ONE MOMENT OR PARTICULAR STORY THAT HAS STOOD OUT TO YOU IN YOUR LINE OF WORK?
So many things come to mind. The homeless prefer to stay out of the limelight – they are never greedy, they only take what they want and are so very grateful. To participate in a street feed and see their faces when you hand them a backpack [is a feeling] words cannot describe. Also, the generosity of our supporters; time after time they keep giving. They are not looking for accolades, they just want to help. Lastly the MaD team who give so much of their time. The majority of these folk are working, have children and have very busy lives but they are there to support Making a Difference simply because they have the passion for those doing it tough.