How can we Help?
Thursday 18 August 2021
On the other side of every assistance call, there is a person who is giving their time to make a real difference within their local community. Vinnies members are the heart of the organisation, offering emotional and physical support for vulnerable people in their time of need.
Marissa Papaspiros is a Vinnies member and a representative of our Sydney Youth, leading with kindness during a truly difficult time for so many. Hear from Marissa about what drives her to help out, and what it means to put a smile on the face of someone who is struggling.
‘Hi! My name is Marissa and I am calling on behalf of St Vincent De Paul to check in, have a chat and see if we can help you in anyway; is now an ok time to talk?’
This was my fifth and final call for the day and for the most part I had been told; ‘I’m all good, thanks for calling’.
As part of the ongoing collaboration between Sydney Youth and Young Adult Conference and the Sydney region, I had been volunteering with the Redfern Centre to engage in welfare checks. It would be this phone call however, that would lead me to truly understand the value and good work that we as Vinnies are able to do.
The lady on the other end of the line had seemed to be holding in her story for a while, waiting for a moment just like this. Her name was Sonya*
Sonya let me know that she was all alone, that one of her sons was in hospital and that her other son wasn’t able to check in often because he lived so far away. Sonya told me she was dying. That she had no food in her fridge. That she was too scared to leave the house because of COVID19. That she was all alone.
The constant reminders for the community to check in with one another, to stay connected despite physical distancing, to help each other… my past four calls had, I supposed, lulled me into the mindset that yes things were tough, but that people were doing OK. However, Sonya was most definitely not OK.
We chatted for a while longer and then said goodbye.
I wasn’t sure what I could do to help. Her problems were too huge to solve. Speaking with the Regional President we managed to contact Sonya’s son just before he was due for surgery and determined that he would be out of hospital by the end of the week, that hospice care had been organized for Sonya and that her other son was due to visit tomorrow evening.
This all seemed promising but Sonya would still be alone for the immediate future. Her fridge was still empty. That I could solve: ‘Hi Sonya, this is Marissa again from Vinnies, I was wondering do you like spaghetti bolognese and can I get you a grocery pack?’
After picking up the groceries Sonya would like, cooking a bulk load of bolognese, adding a bunch of flowers and a few magazines to the haul I was off.
Wearing a mask and gloves I delivered the packages to Sonya at her door. We both smiled (through the masks) and that was that. Sonya and I spoke a few times after. Her son was recovering well and able to visit more and her hospice care was helpful. Sonya was no longer alone. One phone call. A few groceries. A home cooked meal. These solutions definitely didn’t solve all of Sonya’s problems but they helped.
I am incredibly grateful and blessed that Sonya answered the phone. That she shared her story with me. That Vinnies was able to help her. The knowledge that Vinnies will be able to reach those in need is a constant source of hope for me.
Contributed by Marissa Papaspiros, Sydney Youth Representative & Member of Sydney Youth & Young Adults Conference.
We are always keen to get new friends on board to help out locally, find out more & join Vinnies Youth today!
*(name changed for privacy)