9 June, 2016
Brendan* first visited Redwood Community Centre in 2014 to collect food from the ‘Chewsday Bite’ program while living locally. But soon after he became homeless and started re-using illicit substances again. He was homeless for almost a year and in that time became addicted to ‘Ice’, was charged with theft and attempted suicide twice.
One evening when Brendan made his way back to Warburton to escape the city, he was not in a good place. He later told me that as he walked across the bridge he thought about jumping off. But he though to himself, “If I see a sign that there is help out there, I won’t do this.” At that moment he saw the lights of the Redwood Community Centre and heard voices inside. He went in and was greeted by the Friday Soup Crew. From that point he became part of the Redwood family. He stopped using ‘ice’, found accommodation and even volunteered at the centre. He attended regular counselling sessions and got back in touch with his estranged family.
Late last year, Brendan was accepted into a rehabilitation program interstate and moved to renew his relationship with his mum, sister and nephews. Since then we have heard that he is doing well with his treatment and although heartbroken by the news his mum has a terminal illness, he is relieved that he can be there to help her and spend time with her.
This is the remarkable story shared by Redwood Community Centre manager Kate Barrett. Redwood provides emergency and ongoing assistance to vulnerable and isolated people in the community in Warburton, Victoria. 35 volunteers give more than 200 hours per week to provide youth and family support through food parcels, referrals to local services and a drop-in centre.
*Name changed to protect privacy