Food and friendship on the menu at Dining with Friends

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Home > Media > News > Food and friendship on the menu at Dining with Friends
Food and friendship on the menu at Dining with Friends

Savoury aromas drift temptingly along the corridors at the Launceston Catholic Parish Centre.

It is the third Tuesday of the month and the volunteers preparing for Dining with Friends are hard at work in the Parish Centre kitchen.

Soon they will be welcoming an ever-growing number of guests to the table to share food and friendship.

Organiser Melissa White explained that Dining with Friends in Launceston is modelled on the St Vincent de Paul Society program of the same name in the Hobart area.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response from people who want to volunteer and our guest numbers are growing each month. They just love it,” Ms White said.

“Dining with Friends provides a hearty meal and conversation for those who may be socially isolated, lonely, or would just like to meet new friends.

“The volunteers prepare the meal and then sit down and share the meal with the guests. The program also provides a great social outreach volunteering opportunity for people who can only volunteer after hours.”

The first event attracted eight guests with 18 people at the second event and 31 at the third. Each event is supported by a team of cheerful, welcoming and hardworking volunteers.

“The Launceston program began with a working group of six passionate volunteers who have worked collaboratively with the Launceston Catholic Parish,” Ms White explained.

“The social program is volunteer-run, with volunteers from existing St Vincent de Paul Society programs and some from the parish. A large number of teaching staff from St Patrick’s College are also involved.”

Ms White is the membership and community services manager for the St Vincent de Paul Society Tasmania and is also a Launceston Catholic parishioner.

She explained how the initiative came about.

“As members of the St Vincent de Paul Society, we are very aware that people who present to our services in need of food or clothing often have far greater needs, and one of these is that they suffer from the poverty of loneliness,” she said.

“We don’t often have the time during our appointments or home visits just to chat and listen more deeply to their story.

“We also acknowledge that the poverty of loneliness is all around us, and even in our own parish community.”

The St Vincent de Paul Society aspires to live the gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society.

“Dining with Friends is an opportunity for volunteers to live out their faith through action,” Ms White said.

“Christ himself is our greatest example of reaching out to the marginalised and treating each and every person with dignity and respect.”

Dining with Friends is on the third Tuesday of the month at the Launceston Catholic Parish Pastoral Centre, Margaret St, from 6pm to 8.30pm. Guests are asked to RSVP on 6326 5551.

Image: Serving up a warm welcome at Dining with Friends in Launceston are, from left, Jane O’Connor, Karen Heathcote, Kathy O’Sullivan, Melissa White and Tracey Owers.