Uniting Aid is a caring service providing emergency relief and other services to vulnerable people in the City of Stirling. Years ago, we operated our op shop out of a garden shed at the back of the church’s premises, which comprised just a house converted as best we could into an emergency relief centre. This garden shed was very small and also very hot, and there were many days during the summer when we could not open the shop because it was too hot to work in.
John Ward was the chairman of the Board of Uniting Aid at the time and he had the vision to extend the premises southwards and build a new shop and reception area for clients. The only problem was there was no money to undertake such a project.
John approached three public spirited individuals – Kan Fong (architect), Sam Buckeridge of BGC (building materials) and Mike Lawson of Northerly (builders) who agreed to provide everything needed free of charge. They, in turn, enlisted the aid of their contractors to do the various tasks needed, also free of charge. John handled all the liaison among the various companies and the requirements of the City of Stirling and the new shop and reception room were opened in 2013.
The takings from our shop have increased by 163% because of the larger area allowing for more goods to be better displayed.
It was the unanimous wish of the Board, staff and volunteers that the new part of our building be named ‘The John Ward Resource Centre’ to acknowledge his tremendous contribution towards our emergency relief work. This was done with a ceremony on Friday 28 September with Rev David de Kock unveiling the new signs, followed by a celebration luncheon for John and his family, our Board, staff and volunteers and all our church partners. Rev Stephen Larkin, Minister at Nedlands Uniting Church, our sponsoring church, giving the blessing.
Although we are a small emergency relief organisation of the Uniting Church, we have 2 500 client visits a year, which comprise around 5 500 family members. We assist with food, financial contributions towards their utilities bills and financial counselling.
The John Ward Resource Centre houses good stocks of high quality second hand clothing, shoes, household goods and childrens’ books, games and toys, all at extremely low prices. We prepare 500 Christmas gifts each year for our clients’ families, and have special bags to assist the homeless and those who are soon to give birth or have just given birth. We are extremely grateful for the contributions of food, goods and finance we receive from our partner churches, and of course could not exist except for our amazing band of over 65 volunteers.
For more information and to find out how you can support Uniting Aid, visit unitingchurchwa.org.au/unitingaid.
Margaret Waller, Co-ordinator at Uniting Aid