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New Vinnies Shop West End blessed, op-shopping helps clothe and shelter Aussies doing it tough

Giving spirit: Capuchin Father Lam Vu blessing the new West End Vinnies shop with the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Brisbane archdiocese president Larry Mann.

VINNIES Shop West End staff, local conference volunteers and members of the community gathered for the blessing of the new Montague Road store on July 18.

Dutton Park parish priest Capuchin Father Lam Vu led a “simple but effective liturgy”, blessing the store with many representatives from the St Vincent de Paul Society present.

West End centre co-ordinator Debbi Engler said it was a lovely morning.
“We had Fr Lam (Vu) bless the store; he was really lovely and did a lovely job,” she said.

Local St Vincent de Paul Society conference president John O’Gorman said the blessing was a good opportunity to start it off on the right foot.

The store has been open since June 1 and Ms Engler said it was travelling well.

“People are really happy to find us because we do still need to raise awareness for people to know we are here,” she said.

“When they find us, they really are enjoying looking through the store and always coming back.

“Also, because we’ve transferred from Boundary Street, a lot of people sort of weren’t aware that we were down here.

“It’s just creating awareness, I think, but everybody’s really enjoying the store because it’s quite sizeable, and open, so they can comfortably look around.

“Some people spend hours here.”

Mr O’Gorman, who has been with the society for more than 10 years, said the facility was great.

“It’s much larger than the (previous) shop, almost three times as large as the previous shop, and provides a site which will, over time, prove very central because of the expansion building around that area of Montague Road,” he said.

“We’re very pleased to see the expansion of the Vinnies store.”

At the start of April, Ms Engler and a small team of volunteers turned an empty shell of a shop into a store full of high-quality products at low prices.
She came from working at Stones Corner and said the transformation of the West End shop was a “big challenge, but an amazing challenge”.

Ms Engler said the volunteers were amazing, working around the clock to put in shelves, set up pricing and do everything that needed to be done.

Now, with operations in full swing, the store is helping members of the community.

Ms Engler said it was important people understood how Vinnies shops worked and how they fitted into the works of the organisation.

She said one of its main purposes was to provide low-price goods to people who needed them.

“All the money we earn goes to St Vincent de Paul’s, and then they go out and they interview people to see how they can help them the most,” she said.

Mr O’Gorman said the local conferences handed out clothes vouchers that could be spent in the Vinnies store too.

“We give them a $50 voucher and (they) cash it in at the store for what they need,” he said.

“The store of course runs at a slight surplus, so the funds generated by the shops go back to conferences such as ours to provide the funds we spend to provide other things like food and so forth.

“It’s a great facility to have in our conference area.”

Ms Engler said she was passionate about giving.

“That’s why I love doing this job because what I’m doing, and what the team are doing, is we are helping people who are in need and that’s important to us,” she said.

Mr O’Gorman said getting involved with Vinnies was an opportunity for practical Christianity, “to provide the opportunity to make good on our attempt to love our neighbour”.

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