Deliberate Acts of Kindness

Meet Chris, Ian and Victoria (the sheep) of Purple Dove Awareness Group and Food is Free.

They welcomed Theo and I to their home with (literally) open arms. We had never met before, but that made no difference. A few text messages and we are friends.

This would be the case with anyone they meet, I’m sure. In fact, complete strangers have benefited from their generosity for many years already. Things don’t always turn out the way you might predict.

We’ve come to The Summit, outside Stanthorpe, today to learn how to weave ghastly grey grocery bags into waterproof sleeping mats for those who are sleeping rough. Along with that skill, we’ve learned of the quite phenomenal work of Chris and Ian. If there is an hour in which they can help someone else, they’re probably already doing that.

Within a year of Chris and Ian’s marriage, Ian was diagnosed with prostate cancer and given 10 months to live. That was 10 years ago. Now, between treatments and surgeries, Ian and Chris run garage sales and market stalls and organise the markets at the Stanthorpe Showgrounds on the fourth Saturday of each month. The funds they raise are all sent to support both prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Not long ago, they set up raised garden beds, a lot of them, on their own property in which they grow a variety of vegetables. These are cared for by them and placed in a stand by the road at the end of their long driveway, not to sell, but as part of “Food is Free”.

“We don’t want people to feel bad if they need help,” said Chris. “When it’s like this, they can come past and take what they need without having to ask for it and perhaps feel like they’re being judged.”

And it’s becoming a cooperative part of the community. Someone left a note and a bag of miniature shampoos and conditioners near the veges the other week. They had a surplus and knew someone else might benefit from it.

There are helpers, too. Sometimes there are 10 or more people weaving bags into mats under the watchful eyes of Victoria, the mower sheep.

“Victoria was Victa,” explained Ian, “Then we turned her over and she’s Victoria. We bought her to be friends with out other sheep, but they don’t like each other, so she’s up here with us.”

Victoria spends her days being loved and fed by visitors – including Theo, mowing – obviously, and being followed by the cat. Wherever you find Victoria, the cat will be there, curled up comfortably on Victoria’s body, enjoying the pre-production, nature’s own, walking blanket!

Like me, you probably think that this is a pretty big undertaking for a couple who are, ostensibly, retired. It didn’t start with these activities and it hasn’t stopped with JUST these, either. Not at all.

In 2015/2016, Chris was part of Walk for Life. With Ian trailing her with their caravan and car, Chris walked around Australia for 12 months! Raising money for both prostate and breast cancer, Chris walked each day. They raised about $40,000! And that seems like it was just the beginning of the philanthropic story. As they travelled and stopped to sleep each night, Chris and Ian met many homeless people and those who were living in their cars; it’s more common than I realised. When they returned home, they decided to do something to help and it grew from there.

During the hour and a half I visited, Ian took two phone calls and this meant they were heading out to pick up a large donation of furniture as soon as we left, before a doctor’s appointment later in the day.

“That happens all the time,” Chris told me, “People know we help so they often ring us to pick up things like that. They also know to call us of they’ve got people who need something. We can usually put something together. Do you want to see the container?”

We walked past more garden beds, and Victoria and the cat in the shade, to unlock a newly purchased, roofed by Ian, container. This now holds all the goods that Chris and Ian can’t house elsewhere until it finds its home with someone in need. Shelves of blankets, toiletries, clothes, towels, appliances, furniture, knitted beanies, items for markets and garage sales and….loads of things, line the walls. All are totally organised so Chris knows she can put together a package with ease, depending on the specific need.

I’m sure there is more that I didn’t ask about or find out about, after all we were only there a short time, but I do know that these ventures need time and support. From what I know, Chris and Ian are unlikely to ask for any assistance, but if you’d like to see a little more of what they’re doing, encourage them, and possibly support their efforts to support others, I expect they’d find a need to fill. You can visit their Facebook pages below.

Thanks again, Chris and Ian, for your welcome, your hospitality and the great work that you are doing every day (and the zucchinis!).

https://www.facebook.com/purpledoveAG/

https://www.facebook.com/FoodIsFreeTheSummit/

Tough life!

It’s a tough life!

I’m on an excursion today with my Year 11/12 English Communication class. We are here because we are learning about persuasive speeches. Yes, really.

image
image
image
image

image

I know, it sounds unlikely. But despite appearances, this is a valid excursion. I’ve tried something new with my class this term. All the info I gave them was that we had to complete a persuasive speech for our assessment and they planned the term in a way that they would like to learn. Of course, they were quick to point out that they’d NEED to visit a theme park at some point.

“Persuade me,” I said.
“We could write about which is the best ride or theme park,” they said.
“Ok,” I said, “I’ll try.”

So I spoke to our Head of School, explaining the importance of the students taking control of their learning and being inspired to learn. I think I was a bit surprised when he said yes! The condition was that I have the requisite paperwork in the very next day and that I make use of MY persuasive skills to write the letter to parents. I’m pretty impressed with my efforts…

Excursion – Wet n Wild
This term, 11/12 English Communications are involved in the creation and monitoring of their term plan. During the first lesson of the term, students collaboratively developed a Term Overview and detailed what they felt they needed to learn in order to complete the assessment during the exam block. To motivate and inspire them to write an interesting persuasive speech for the exam, they decided to spend the day at Wet ā€˜nā€™ Wild on Thursday, 22nd October. Due to the in-class nature of the planning, this is an optional activity which is not included in our excursion schedule. We encourage you to allow your child to attend to encourage them as they take responsibility and ownership of their learning.

What do you think?

I sent some of the photos above to the HOS with the message,
“Wish you were here?” He was thrilled. This is the message I received in return,
“It’s important, she says…It’s for the students, she says…it’s valuable learning time, she says…💩.” Such support! 😜

I also received a few messages from my Year 11 class (or what was left of them; there were a number of excursions today).

J: “theirs only 3 of use that are in english… yay [sic]…do we still have to do today’s work?”
{I reply in the affirmative}
“Oh.”

G: “Here’s my work from today. It’s a bit quiet.”

G: “Hello again, I would just like to point out how creepy the front page of the pdf document is…sorry if I ever look like this in class šŸ™‚ Feel free to add a caption.”

image

I nearly fell off my banana lounge with laughter! That kid looks positively murderous! I’m sorry if ANY of my students feel even the remotest reason to look like this in my classes!

Caption away! I’m very much looking forward to what you all come up with.

So there you go. My day; my students; only 3 of whom decided to line up for a ride at the exact time we were to meet, were 42 minutes late and held up the whole bus full of those waiting. And they did apologise. After asking if they had time to grab a quick frozen drink!

And my new swimmers were a great success – to me.

Veritas, Eski