WHEN Surfers Paradise parishioner and community worker Robyn Hunt held the Queen’s baton aloft on one of the final stretches into the Gold Coast, she did it for the charity she loves.
“I carried the torch for the 1200 volunteers who work for Rosies,” Mrs Hunt said, reminiscing on the great Commonwealth Games moment, as she attended Mass as sacristan at Stella Maris Church, Broadbeach, last week.
For the past nine years, Mrs Hunt has served on the executive committee of Rosies – Friends on the Street, and is a tireless campaigner for the outreach to the homeless and those vulnerable on the streets, at the courts, prisons and youth detention centres.
“I think lots of times in our world we need to look around us and see there are a lot of people in need,” Mrs Hunt said.
“(About) 5.6 million Australians, that is one in four of us, are lonely almost all of the time or on a regular basis.
“Initially what motivates me are the Gospels – Jesus asking us to reach out to those in need, and particularly Matthew 25 where it is written ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me …’
“And that’s what Rosie’s does. We are there to help those in need – particularly the lonely, the abandoned and the marginalised.”
Behind the glitz of the Gold Coast, especially in the midst of the Commonwealth Games, Mrs Hunt admitted there was a great need for Rosies services.
High rents and a lack of secure employment have led to a downward spiral for many struggling individuals and families.
“What we are is a place where people can come, (and) feel safe and feel part of the community and have a sense of belonging,” Mrs Hunt said.
“People need to be given back their dignity.
“I often have the homeless say to me ‘I can go anywhere and get a feed, but to have someone sit with me, look me in the eye, sit with me and talk to me – that is a different thing’.
“I think it is an extremely important part of our charity work.”
Rosies is a comparatively small charity that relies on donations from corporations, businesses, schools, religious communities and individuals to fund its operations.
It has been outreaching since 1987 – celebrating 30 years last year – and has more than 280 volunteers in the Gold Coast part of the army of volunteers throughout Queensland.
As well as committing to voluntary welfare and support work, Mrs Hunt said there was a lot of community-building needed to be done.
“I would love to see some entrepreneur come forward to build short-term accommodation where people could stay the night, (and) have a place to keep their belongings so they don’t have to take them out on the streets with them,” she said.