Diocesan High School Camp
Year Book, 2017
From the Youth coordinator
Mini Vinnies Snapshots
High School Conference in focus
Our Buddies day visit to NERAM!
2017 Diocesan High School Camp
Table of Contents
2017 Mini Vinnies Gatherings
A lot has happened since our last edition.
I'm very pleased to report that we have launched the Buddies Day and Homework Club programs in Armidale. These programs aim to give kids a 'break away from the everyday' by participating in fun activities and building relationships with both their peers and our Young Adult Volunteers.
We held Buddies Days at NERAM, where we enjoyed a hands on Art and Craft experience, the Armidale Sport and Rec Centre which featured Ten Pin Bowling and Laser Tag and also Curtis Park for games followed by Hungry Jacks.
Homework Club was held every Wednesday Afternoon at the Vinnies Centre in Rusden Street. We were able to offer a pick up and drop off service for the children, which meant the world to mums and dads without transport. On arrival at the Centre, the kids were treated to a healthy afternoon tea, while we sat in a circle to talk about their week. Following this, the kids paired off with their Young Adult helper for two 45 minute blocks - including structured maths and reading, art and craft, board games and the ever popular X Box.
Feedback from parents and caseworkers indicated that the kids really looked forward to participating in our programs. Over time, the children showed more of a willingness to trust their helpers and engage with each other. In the final weeks of the program, they decided to convene a council to evaluate the program and provide recommendations for improvement in 2018!
We would not have been able to run the program without the dedication of a core group of volunteers who clearly enjoyed working with the children. I'd like to extend a sincere thanks to everyone involved.
I'm very excited about the willingness of our schools to engage with Vinnies. Currently, 70% of schools in the Diocese have an active Youth Conference. This is a 130% increase over 2 years. We anticipate that at least another 3 schools will come on board in 2018. Even more encouraging is the dedication and enthusiasm of Conference Members. The kids get so excited about the work they do and the enthusiasm is infectious.
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From the youth - Coordinator
In October, we held 4 Mini Vinnies Gatherings with approximately 270 attendees. It was great to see Adult Conference Members in attendance also. The events were an opportunity for members to network with one another, to share their successes and have fun playing a variety of games including 'Vincentian Trivia' . At each event, we had a spiritual reflection. This year, the challenge was, "How do we incorporate our Lord's Great Command to Love, in everything that we do as Vincentians?"
We also had our annual Diocesan High School Camp at Lake Keepit, with 3 schools in attendance: Holy Trinity, O'Connor and St Mary's. We celebrated the 400th Anniversary of Vincentian Charism and Spirituality.
We explored the following themes in small groups:
The evolution of charity
Solidarity with the poor
Having personal contact with the marginalized
Being 'Mystics in Action'
Conferences were asked to consider their work in light of the themes discussed.
Participants were challenged to examine how they have experienced the call to change their lives from within through involvement with Vinnies.
Fr McHugh from Gunnedah was very gracious with his time, fitting a Mass in for us, despite his very busy schedule and was very patient despite some of our technical issues!
The group also participated in a variety of games which were facilitated by St Marys, as well as 'bush archery' and a team building exercise called 'Road Blocks'.
Teacher and participant feedback was quite positive and we are now in the process of scheduling the 2018 camp in term 1 so that all five schools can participate.
Please have a happy and safe Christmas and New Year Period and I very much look forward to talking to you next year.
Maria helped Sharon and Ollie find a stable home, and ensured that young Ollie had everything he needed for school. But more than that, Maria provided the emotional support that Sharon and Ollie so desperately needed.
Your donation today to the Vinnies Christmas Appeal will help more wishes, just like Ollie's, come true
MEET SHARON AND OLLIE
Young mother Sharon has faced many challenges throughout her life, but she is determined to provide a better future for her son, Ollie.
Through no fault of her own, basics like holding down a job or finding long term accommodation left Sharon on the brink of collapse. She eventually turned to Vinnies for help. Volunteer Maria arrived the next day.
For many people, Christmas is a joyful time of year. However, the sad reality is that 13.3% of Australians are living in poverty. Of these, 731,000 are children who may not get their Christmas wish. But your support can make a difference.
Mini Vinnies Gatherings
St Mary of the Angels, Guyra
42 children attended our Mini Vinnies Gathering in Warialda on the 12th October. We had a great showing from both Holy Trinity, Inverell and St Philomenas, Moree. The kids really enjoyed the games we played, including Vincentian Trivia, and being showered with 'Favourites' when they completed each of their activities. The children also enjoyed a barbeque. Thanks so much to Mary-Jane Guest for organising this.
St Joseph's Glen Innes hosted the Mini Vinnies Gathering on the 19th October. St Joseph's Tenterfield and St Mary of the Angels Guyra also attended. There were 75 kids in total. The kids enjoyed their 'getting to know you game' (and the chocolates). The hall was a-buzz with movement and conversation while the kids worked through their activities later in the day. Thanks so much to Pauline Gannon for all of her help and to St Josephs for hosting the event.
We're grateful to Judy Elks and everyone at St Joseph's Uralla for hosting the Mini Vinnies Gathering on the 2nd of November. St Joseph's have a whole of school approach to Mini Vinnies which is unique in the Diocese. We also welcomed St Mary's Armidale and St Patrick's Walcha. We had 80 children in attendance across the 3 schools in addition to Members from our local adult Conference in Armidale, who really enjoyed the event.
It was great to see the convergence of both new and revitalised Mini Vinnies Groups at St Nicholas in Tamworth on the 20th October. The St Nick's kids were joined by St Edwards Tamworth, St Joseph's Quirindi and Sacred Heart Boggabri. There were 55 kids in attendance. We were also joined by Vinnies Regional President, Margo Collett and 'the two Johns' from the Adult Conference in town.
Mini Vinnies Snapshots
The following is a list of activities our group has carried out in 2017:
We are on the cleaning roster at the Cathedral once a term.
At school Masses we lead the singing with our choir.
We held a Donation day for children affected by floods – school books, pencils, clothing etc.
We sold pancakes for Project Compassion /Caritas
We knitted squares that were made into blankets which we then gave to St Vincent de Paul for the Winter appeal and nursing homes, Ronald McDonald House Newcastle and Tamworth, Birthing Unit at John Hunter Hospital, Armidale Care Van & the Cathedral Parish for the Eucharistic Adoration
We assisted at the school fete. Mini Vinnies held a stall where we sold craft items that Mini Vinnies had made. Our stall also had lucky dips, popcorn, drinks and chips.
We ran a range of activities for October Catholic Mission week, including, guessing competitions, a movie night, coin line, walk a thon and bike a thon, games, cake stall, coin line and mufti Day
We have also assisted the P&F run School Disco, where the Mini Vinnies children added glitter make-up and hair colour for the children who attended the disco.
In 2017 Mini Vinnies group is hosting a Christmas Movie night followed by a Sleep Out in the School Hall.
Visit to BUPA Aged Care at Christmas time to sing carols and give the residents a gift.
St Mary's Primary - Armidale
Sacred Heart Primary - Boggabri
Our Mini Vinnies are divided up into Garden, Publicity, Suggestions and Community Committees. This year we have sent old library books to Vanuatu, sold popcorn at the Mini Olympics, facilitated a buy one-get-one-free book fair and have had a 'Principal for the Day' raffle. We are proud of the Garden that we have created where the produce was sold in the canteen or to members of the public.
Through money raised, we have sent two children to school in Fiji, donated books to the Ronald McDonald house in Tamworth and donated goods to kids in 3rd world countries via Samaritans Purse/ Operation Christmas Child.
St Joseph's Primary - Glen Innes
St Joseph's Primary - Quirindi
Mini Vinnies in Glen Innes has 35 members. We meet every second Tuesday at lunchtime. Mrs. Gannon, Mr. Withers and Mrs. McAllister assist in the running of our group. We held our commissioning ceremony after school on a Friday to enable our families to attend.It was a wonderful celebration.
This year we have assisted our Librarian to organise and run Makerspace activities. Makerspace Groups meet on Tuesday lunchtimes for the Stage 2 students. The students participate in a variety of activities such as: lego construction, origami, construction sticks, free making and solar robots. Makerspaces are all about encouraging children’s creativity .
Later this Term we are holding a bake sale to support the Christmas Appeal in Glen Innes.
St Joseph’s Quirindi were honoured to attend the recent Mini Vinnies Gathering at St Nicholas School, Tamworth. Five Yr 5 students were our school ambassadors for the event: Steve Forsyth, Bryce Kelly, Ariya Darnell, Tayla Brown and Clare Canham. The students relished the opportunity to learn more about Mini Vinnies and are looking forward to assisting staff to establish Mini Vinnies in our school in 2018.
St Nicholas Primary - Tamworth
This year the St Nicholas Mini Vinnies conference took charge of launching and running the Winter Appeal. Members were inundated with items of clothing, blankets and non-perishable foods from the very generous families of our school community. Members were responsible for separating and folding items into categories and then bagging them accordingly. The items were then given to the local Tamworth St Vincent de Paul branch for distribution.
St Joseph's Primary - Tenterfield
2017 has been a highly productive and successful year for Tenterfield Mini Vinnies. Our goal was to continue to fundraise to buy swags for the homeless. We had a Crazy Hat Day, State of Origin Footy Fun Day and an amazing Joey's Got Talent Show. These were very well received by the school and community and raised enough money to buy two swags with a third swag thrown in by our local rural supplies store, Wiltshire and Co.
We have been visiting our St Vincent de Paul Centre to learn about the wonderful volunteers and the important job they do in helping people in need in Tenterfield. These visits have been invaluable for our understanding of how the Centre operates and has demonstrated first hand how we help and reach out to others by supporting such a great organisation.We are currently asking all our families to provide food items for hampers which will be distributed by the Centre at Christmas.
We first met Mr O'Kane in Term 1 where we had our first meeting.We elected our Mini Vinnies office bearers - President: Katelin Abra; Vice President: Olivia Croker; Secretary: Taylor Johnson; Treasurers: Gillian Mcgrath and Hannah O’Toole; Publicity Officers: Aleerah Robins and Maddie O’Connor.
Then we got organised in Term 2 and have held 3 events so far this year. The first thing we did as a group was the Lismore book drive.The families in our school community donated many books.The Mini Vinnies group spent lots of time tagging and checking the quality of the books to send to the affected schools. We donated most of the book to St. Joseph’s School, South Murwillimbah who lost their entire library in the flood.
St Edwards Primary - Tamworth
The second thing we have done is the shoe box appeal. People donated empty boxes, toiletries, clothes, toys and entire full boxes. The boxes that weren’t filled we made ourselves from the resources people kindly donated. We donated all the boxes we filled to homeless facilities in Tamworth and the surrounding areas. People had a lot of fun packing all the boxes with the resources people donated to the church.
The cake stall was the most recent stall we held in Mini Vinnies. It was held on week 10, Friday the 22nd of September. Mini Vinnies enjoyed helping out with cooking and selling their items. People should join Mini Vinnies because this club meets new people all the time and helps the poor when they are in need. It also gives you something to do for the community.
At the beginning of the year, we had our Mini Vinnies Commissioing Ceremony at our Church in Walcha.
We then held a Winter Appeal in Term 2. Bags came rushing in and it was fantastic. There were about 15 bags of clothes, toys and canned food for the poor. After a few weeks of collecting donations the committee went down to the St Vincent de Paul Centre in Town and gave them all of our bags.
Normally we have 2 people go up to the library after our Mini Vinnies meeting and decorate the prayer table.
Every few weeks the students ranging from 3 to 6 that attend Mini Vinnies go down to the local elders home Riverview where we spend time with the residents and do a range of activities with them. We all really enjoy it.
We've also done a fund raiser at our Book Fair and Grandparents Day and had a guessing competition. All of the funds raised went to our local Vinnies Centre.
St Patrick's Primary - Walcha
At St Joseph's Warialda, we've been busy. We donated toiletry packs to the local hospital for use in emergencies by people who don't have time to get what they need from home. The hospital invited us to a morning tea to say thank you for the donation.
We also held a movie day where we wore P.J's, ate Popcorn and drank Poppers to raise $75 for the Assist A Student Program. That money will help a child our age, in a poorer country, go to school for a year.
We held our Winter Appeal for Vinnies and collected lots of clothes and blankets. We went to our own wardrobes and found an item of clothing to donate, that we knew a kid our age would wear.
We took all of the donations to the Warialda Shop and helped the volunteers sort it all out into various piles. We got a real sense of giving through these activities.
We are looking forward to our presentation evening in early December.
St Joseph's Primary - Warialda
Diocesan High School Camp
Lake Keepit at dusk 26th October 2017
Celebrating 400 years of Vincentian Charism and Spirituality
We were grateful to Fr McHugh for saying Mass. The kids participated fully in all spiritual formation activities and the teachers did a wonderful job leading them. Thanks very much to Christine McLachlan and Holy Trinity for leading the evening Spiritual reflection on day 1.
We all had a great time doing the various activities, facilitated by super helpful staff at Lake Keepit. Some of the activities were a little more challenging than others and required participants to really rely on one other to get the job done.
We serve our school and wider community by participating in masses, fundraisers, prayer services and helping raise awareness for issues concerning other communities and countries, with a focus on poverty.
At the beginning of the year, we set up a stand at our School Fair to promote Vinnies and encourage new membership.
On the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, we sold pancakes to fundraise for Vinnies. Another of our annual fundraisers is the 'Paupers Banquet'. We hold this during Lent, as part of the Caritas mission. This year we cooked eight kilos of rice to serve to those in our student body who participated.
We held our annual St Vincent de Paul Winter Appeal at the end of term 2. As part of the liturgy we listened to and reflected upon the song: A-Team, by Ed Sheeren, as members of the school community processed through the chapel and placed blankets and warm clothing around one of our students who represented the poor. At lunch we sold pizzas and cans of drink. Students made a gold coin donation to wear mufti for the day. The blankets and warm clothes which, had been donated were taken to our local Vinnies store.
high school conference
Our Vinnies group at O’Connor has continued to work with Mr Roff, the REC to help the school celebrate Christmas and Easter with liturgical opportunities. We also provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their generosity and gift giving. Christmas 2016 saw our conference receive a very generous donation of $3000, which we used to make gift bags for all the students of Minimbah preschool. We bought, packed and delivered the bags in time for them to be handed out to all the students at their Christmas party. Each pack contained a selection of books, stationary items like pencils and textas, a drink bottle, some playdough and a small bag of chocolates.
We continue to meet almost every Friday, when we visit Autumn Lodge (one of the aged care homes in Armidale) and spend time listening to and talking with the residents. Sometimes we are able to join in games with them. But just talking to the residents, brings joy and happiness to their day. Some of the residents we visit may not have any family to visit them. On occasion we receive the news that one of the residents with whom we have been able to establish a friendship has passed away. This is always a difficult time but also highlights the fact that what we do makes a difference even though we don’t always see it.
We have had two visits this year, with another planned for next Friday, to Kent House in Armidale, to entertain and make afternoon tea for the Stoke Recovery Group, a group that meets to support each other in their recovery after a stroke. Our visits bring an opportunity for our members and others in the school community to not only showcase their talents but to bring joy to the members of the group. Both parties look forward each term to this time of sharing.
During term 3 our Vinnies conference and Youth Group combined to enjoy a sleepout at O’Connor. While this was technically a ‘sleep in’ rather than a ‘sleep out’, much fun was had by all. We brought our sleeping bags and enjoyed a night of fellowship and games and ended the time with a cooked breakfast on the Saturday morning.
Two of our members Nick and Sophie have volunteered to serve the wider community by being actively involved in the Youth Vinnies centre homework club.
In the last week of term 3 we were able to complete a long planned for vision. This involved the planning, creating and painting of a mural for the gardens of Ningana, the dementia unit of Autumn Lodge in Armidale. This project took about three years to bring to fulfillment, so it was with a great sense of joy that we presented the mural to some of the residents and the Director of Autumn Lodge. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to see it installed as Ningana was in lockdown from the flu at the time.
Frederic's 'Conference of Charity'
planning their activities..