Oz Day award for Council

Congratulations to the Mount Barker YouthCARE Council who were awarded the Active Citizenship Award by the Shire of Plantagenet on Australia Day.

The council received the award for “Fostering Australian pride and spirit through active citizenship and outstanding contribution to the community”.

Since 2000, the group has organised numerous fundraisers to ensure chaplaincy continues in the local schools.

Inaugural chairman Roger Woodward said it was wonderful the council had been publicly recognised.

“It is an organisation where members from different groups and churches find common ground to work together toward a shared purpose, that of providing a chaplaincy service.” 

“As a team and in many ways, various members over that time have sought, negotiated and fundraised thousands of dollars.

“For MBYCC to be nominated and presented the Shire of Plantagenet Active Citizenship Award 2018, it shows how much the College, Shire and community value, support and appreciate the presence and work of our chaplains in our schools.

“It is wonderful for us to have been a part of that.”

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Politicians stress the importance of chaplaincy

Despite being aligned on opposite sides of politics, Mandurah’s Labor MLA David Templeman and Dawesville’s Liberal MP Zak Kirkup were united on the steps of Parliament House in their support of school chaplaincy.

The pair jointly hosted 12 YouthCARE chaplains and volunteers from their respective electorates for a private lunch at Parliament House. Mr Templeman said they wanted to honour the fabulous work chaplains do in their local community.

“The chaplains are playing a crucial role in our schools in the Mandurah and Peel area, they are magnificent supporters of the children, staff and families of the schools they work in,” he said. “I know first-hand the impact they are having on lots and lots of kids in my schools and for me they are an integral part of the staff.”

Mr Kirkup also expressed his strong support for school chaplaincy.

“That’s the beauty in Mandurah – David and I both recognise the importance of chaplaincy,” he said. “We put community before politics and that’s the most important thing. More than ever, there is a reliance on making sure our community has a robust and well-funded chaplaincy program in as many schools as possible.”

During the lunch, chaplains were able to share about the needs and concerns in school communities 

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Event connects volunteers

On the banks of the Swan River, the Heathcote Cultural Precinct in Applecross was the location for the 2018 CVE Metro Connect.

The day was a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to connect and catch up with like-minded people.

Following a brief coffee and mingle, YouthCARE CEO Stanley Jeyaraj started proceedings with a devotion and interviewed long-time volunteer Peter Jackson and CVE field officer Jo-Anne Hodges.

Guest speaker and Kinwomen co-founder Kelley Chisolm shared her story and how important it is to leave a positive imprint on the children.

Following brunch, there was an opportunity for everyone to exchange ideas before closing with a blessing.

Jo-Anne said she enjoyed attending her first-ever Metro Connect. 

“I loved seeing all the volunteers gather together, share and encourage one another,” she said. “There was a great atmosphere and a lot of fun sharing Treasure Hunters games ideas. It was a valuable time together and everyone left inspired for their year ahead.”

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Passing the Baton enjoyed by all

The annual Passing the Baton Conference was on again in February at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

The YouthCARE-sponsored event included an expo, messages from keynote speaker Rob Furlong and two elective sessions.

More than 20 CVE volunteers from YouthCARE participated in the electives which covered topics such as storytelling, helping children deal with grief, games and supporting children with special needs.

CVE Convenor Anthea Cousins and fellow volunteer Alison Caporn made the two-hour journey from the Wheatbelt. 

The pair have been volunteering at Quairading District High School for a combined 45 years.

“Alison and I always love to come up to Passing the Baton because I find that it re-energises me each year and it helps me gain new skills,” Anthea said.

“After volunteering for so long you sometimes do tend to get into a rut, so it’s good to learn new techniques and ideas and take that back into the classroom. I especially loved the games elective, they teach you new ways of getting messages across and new ways of how to work in the classroom.”

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Breakfast Clubs in the spotlight

As is the case most mornings at Nollamara Primary School, a team of faithful volunteers led by chaplain Jody Rynski, have prepared breakfast for hungry school kids and sent them on their way, ready to start their day.

On this particular day, a TV crew had come down to film the club in action, leading to extra excitement around the canteen.

It’s a familiar story across hundreds of state schools with chaplains coordinating breakfast clubs across WA, serving 350,000 meals in 2017.

“It creates a friendly space where a sense of community is built,” Jody said.

“Each morning parents, students, staff and volunteers come together and connect before the school day begins and this has really become embedded in the culture of our school. It’s now part of the daily routine, and they love it.”

Increased demand has seen it expand to every day of the week – feeding up to 70 students each day. More than 7,000 breakfasts were served at Nollamara last year.

Principal Natalie Tarr said the program had an “amazing” impact on the school community.

“We certainly do have children that need to be given more food than what is available at home in the morning,” she said.

“A good breakfast just starts off their day well, enables them to be settled when they head off to class and aids with their thinking. 

“Just as important is the social aspect. Students sit down at tables, chat to each other and experience the variety of foods that are available for breakfast. 

“We also have staff rostered to talk to the children in the morning and just get a sense if there are any issues – a nice adult they can have a chat to in the morning.”

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Chaplain’s dream lives on in book

A picture of her daughter Rebecca rests in the corner of the room as Nanette Esam reflects on a life well-lived, but tragically cut short.

Rebecca Anderson was a youth pastor at her church and chaplain at Eastern Hills Senior High School for more than nine years. In 2013, while on a family vacation, the 36-year-old passed away unexpectedly when her heart stopped.

Such was the outpouring of grief in the community, that a memorial was built at the school where she impacted several generations of students. One student wrote on the memorial “her heart was too big for her little body”.

For those close to her it was obvious, her life and career were going to be passion driven.

Bec loved Jesus above all else and apart from working with young people, she enjoyed writing.

Nanette and daughter Nicky Ford remember with fondness how prolific Rebecca was, writing poetry and even a book. Bumpel Swivet is a children’s book about two friends who go on imaginary adventures around the world from their home backyard. The origins of the name are a mystery.

“She wrote it about 15 years go,” Nanette explained. “When she first gave it to me I talked to her about publishing it, but it didn’t happen. After Bec passed, I was determined to get it published.”

The text for the book was mostly complete, but still needed illustrations. Nanette tried in vain to find an illustrator.

“Then Nicky said to me ‘Mum, why don’t you do it?’,” Nanette said. “So, I got myself an art teacher and she helped me work on the illustrations. I based two of the characters on my grandchildren Lachlan and Emily.”

Emily beamed with pride when asked about the drawings. “Last year when my school had a book fair, I just dressed up as myself!” she said.

The book launch in July – on Rebecca’s birthday – was a special moment for the family.

“It was so surreal,” Nanette said. “I wanted it to be professional, not half-baked. Good or not at all. The response from people has been incredible – it’s still not real to me.”

While 2016 marked the final year group of students who Rebecca cared for and supported at Eastern Hills SHS, Bumpel Swivet ensures the beloved chaplain will continue to impact many generations to come.

“Rebecca left a legacy at EHSHS,” Nanette said. “We’re all very proud of her.”

Part proceeds of Bec’s book go to chaplaincy. Bumpel Swivet can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Book Depository.

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Message from the CEO

What a start to 2018 it has been! We hit the ground running in January with our biggest ever Chaplaincy Formation: The Light on the Hill. 

The feedback assures us that our chaplains felt valued by the encouragement they received during the program for their unique roles in school communities.

Our Christian Values Education started the year very strongly, with a couple of major events. The first one, the annual Passing the Baton Conference, held at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and sponsored by YouthCARE, was attended by many of our CVE volunteers. 

I found it particularly inspiring given the long distances some our regional volunteers travelled to attend. Such commitment is why CVE continues to have a positive reputation in our communities.

In our first Connect of the year, we welcome the publication of a very special book and our Breakfast Clubs get some extra attention from the media.

I thank you all for your continued support and prayer and look forward to hearing and sharing more stories about the wonderful work YouthCARE is doing in WA school communities in the coming year.

Stanley Jeyaraj – CEO 

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Message from the CEO

What a start to 2018 it has been! We hit the ground running in January with our biggest ever Chaplaincy Formation: The Light on the Hill.

The feedback assures us that our chaplains felt valued by the encouragement they received during the program for their unique roles in school communities.

Our Christian Values Education started the year very strongly, with a couple of major events. The first one, the annual Passing the Baton Conference, held at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and sponsored by YouthCARE, was attended by many of our CVE volunteers.

I found it particularly inspiring given the long distances some our regional volunteers travelled to attend. Such commitment is why CVE continues to have a positive reputation in our communities.

In our first Connect of the year, we welcome the publication of a very special book and our Breakfast Clubs get some extra attention from the media.

I thank you all for your continued support and prayer and look forward to hearing and sharing more stories about the wonderful work YouthCARE is doing in WA school communities in the coming year.

Stanley Jeyaraj – CEO