28 May, 2021
After 14 years as manager of the ADRA Community Care Centre at Blacktown, Pastor Eddy Johnson retired in early 2021. COVID restrictions delayed a formal farewell, but Conference ADRA Director Malcolm Rea hosted a luncheon on May 26 (before the most recent COVID-19 lockdown) in Eddy’s honour. Denison Grellmann, CEO of ADRA Australia, presented Johnson with a plaque for his years of faithful service and wished him well as he takes up the new honorary chaplain role at the centre.
“Pastor Johnson has taught me a great deal about compassion for the most vulnerable in our community,” says Malcolm. “[His] signature brand has been helping people where they are with everything he has—totally free of cost or obligation.”
Gratiela (Grace) Copoceanu was appointed to serve as manager and has been in that role since January 2021. “Grace has been with the centre for almost a decade, and it became apparent that she had the necessary temperament, education, and abilities to make a good manager,” he shares. “As office supervisor and advisor of counsellors and staff, Grace showed initiative and resolve, but also a lot of human kindness, which makes her a favourite with the staff and clients alike.”
Malcolm believes that Grace’s shared vision brings continuity. “She shares that same passion and love of people and has the appropriate experience and qualifications,” he says, explaining that her clinical work at the centre has proven she has a clear vision. “This includes helping people have hope, take heart and learn new life skills so they not only gain independence but also understand their value and their purpose.”
Eddy agrees. “Underpinning everything else is Grace’s firm grasp of the reason ADRA Community Centre in Blacktown exists,” he confirms. “We consider the centre primarily as a redemptive place where the people whose perceived immediate needs may be physical (hunger and addiction) or emotional (relationships), but whose ultimate need is to know God and learn how to connect with Him.”
Grace says she is honoured and excited to serve. “My mind often explodes with plans and dreams for this wonderful place,” she shares. “Yet my greatest desire is to continue the Centre’s legacy of supporting a vulnerable community with Godly inspired care and compassion. The ADRA Community Centre in Blacktown has the unique opportunity and privilege of having people hand their hearts and minds on a silver platter for us to pour our love, support and care in helping shape their lives. This is beyond precious, which is why I hope to see the Centre grow in valuing the methods Jesus used to shape those He touched.”