Prison inmates give up food to help hungry kids

ABC Mid North Coast

By

Gabrielle Lyons

Updated

December 14, 2017 11:00:16

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Food donated by the prisoners will be added to Christmas hampers delivered through the No Kid Hungry program (ABC Mid North Coast: Gabrielle Lyons)
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Dave Davis started the No Kid Hungry program and saw a need in his local community for the program. you cannot put into words or money how much it means for inmates and their rehabilitation.”Another driving force behind the program, apart from inmates, was the facility’s chaplain James Deanton.He said the program not only allowed inmates to connect with the local community but also to feel valued through their actions. In the lead up to Christmas, Mr Davis said he and some volunteers would be preparing hundreds of hampers using food donated by local shops and the inmates. “These men are no different to us — they have family, they hurt and feel pain — and this opportunity allows them to show they are human.”Mr Davis said he has been speaking with the Minister for Correctional Services in hope of extending the fundraising program into correctional facilities across the state. (ABC Mid North Coast: Gabrielle Lyons)
Who will be fed thanks to inmates?The No Kid Hungry project was started in America by local man Dave Davis in the 1990s, but when he returned home to Smithtown, on the Mid North Coast, he noticed a need in his own area.The program provides breakfast to local schools in the Macleay Valley and feeds nearly 300 families per week. (ABC Mid North Coast: Gabrielle Lyons)
“An inmate’s son was being fed by our project and that inmate instigated the fundraising from the inside,” Mr Davis said.”This project was close to his heart, and these men are awesome with their generosity.”Mr Davis said he believes there is a public perception of men behind bars and hopes this contribution to community changes that stigma.”They don’t earn a lot of money inside, and in the last seven weeks, most of that money has come back to us,” he said. “To show compassion in jail can be dangerous so to provide an avenue where they can give without a threat is incredibly important,” Mr Deanton said.”A lot of these guys feel totally worthless, but to be able to provide for somebody else makes them feel like a human being; it’s been very humbling for them.”
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Mid North Coast Correctional food pick up
Altering ordinary prison Christmas The Mid North Coast Correctional Centre does not allow Christmas Day visits although inmates have a day off work and are allowed to relax and contribute to a BBQ with other inmates.Mr O’Shea said it could be a very isolating day.”The inmates don’t want families travelling on Christmas Day [because] if there was an accident, it would crush them,” he said.”It is a very emotional day, being away from family, but the men do the best they can, considering the circumstances, “I think we lose sight of how important this sort of charity drive is for these men back into their community — it really appeals to their heart and soul.”

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An inmate of the facility said providing food for disadvantaged families was a humbling experience. “If they can put food in the belly of one child or a family… Inmates from the Mid North Coast Correctional centre are donating seven weeks’ worth of rations and commissary food buy-ups to disadvantaged children.Oats, rice crisps, noodles, and tins of tuna filled the 200-litre tub which rolled out of the correctional centre at Aldavilla, New South Wales, last week.The goods were donated to South Kempsey’s No Kid Hungry project at The Saving Place.Behind the prison walls, a team of inmates designed colourful posters to plaster around the grounds and in staff areas.One inmate said he believed all 650 prisoners contributed to the project in some way.”We obviously are in jail, meaning we have taken from the community in the past [and] this project has given us a chance to give back,” he said.”Some blokes in here are pretty short on money or don’t have a job inside, so they decided to save up their own breakfast packs and have gone without food themselves as a way to contribute.”

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Inmates had the choice to spend their income on food to donate, or could save their own breakfast rations. (ABC Mid North Coast: Gabrielle Lyons)
Donations help inmates feel valuedMany of the inmates are from the local area and have personally lived on the fringes of poverty which Correctional Service Governor John O’Shea said was the major motivator for inmates to donate.Mr O’Shea has been with the Department of Justice for 28 years and said he had never seen a prison program so popular among inmates.”These inmates recognise the circumstances some Macleay Valley kids are growing up in, and these men have been through tough times themselves,” he said.

Pharmacist finds perfect fit in clothing alteration business

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(ABC Radio Brisbane: Hailey Renault) ABC Radio Brisbane

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Hailey Renault

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December 14, 2017 12:32:44

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Clare Sheng ditched her pharmacy career to run her mother’s clothing alteration business.
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Ms Sheng said she was forced to look for other income streams when fashion retail sales started to suffer three years ago.”A lot of our clients were closing down, they were selling a lot less clothing, and that directly affected our business,” she said.”That’s when I started to take more proactive action to try and get more clients by teaching them the value of dressing well.”The business’s founder, Ms Yu, has stepped back from day-to-day alteration work and is now a part-time consultant who, conveniently, lives around the corner from her daughter.And, bucking the trend of second-generation succession etiquette, Ms Sheng said her advice was always welcome.”If I’m ever scared of trying something new she would say, ‘Well I started the business with no money, no English and no education. (Supplied: Clare Sheng)
On other days she’d find herself elbow deep in dirty dish water, scrubbing tea, coffee and noodles off mugs and bowls piled high in the shop’s only sink.Almost 20 years later — and after vowing to never find work there — the young pharmacist is taking her mother’s alteration business to new heights.Ms Sheng is the director of The Fitting Room, Queensland’s largest independent clothing alteration business.Since joining her mother’s business in 2011, she has doubled its revenue, changed its name, relocated the workshop, and attracted an impressive list of high-end clients.This year she also took home awards recognising her business acumen, multiculturalism and contribution to the fashion industry.”Every garment that you’re fixing is like a problem you’re solving for someone, and every solution is different,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane.”When people leave in their perfectly fitting garments they feel really good about themselves and they’re very grateful to you.”Ms Cheng looks at ease inside the latest incarnation of the shop, darting between the front-of-house styling rooms and a white-walled workshop in the back; a cordless phone is glued to one ear.But this isn’t where she envisioned she would be after finishing her studies at the University of Queensland.”As a Chinese girl everyone says, ‘Go do pharmacy. She also launched a men’s styling service this month to show clients how to improve their clothing and business etiquette.Creating these new ventures was a matter of necessity. Clare Sheng was determined to stay out of her family’s clothing alteration business.She can still recall every detail about the chores she endured inside the busy Rose Arcade workshop throughout her school years.On a good day she would get to help her mum deliver mended clothes to some of Brisbane’s finest retailers. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Hailey Renault)
Despite having limited English and struggling to make ends meet as a single mother, Ms Yu made a name for herself in the clothing alteration industry and started Brisbane City Clothing Alterations in 2008.”Back then not everyone was used to having non-English speakers around,” Ms Sheng said.”There were a lot of difficult situations at school, in public and especially for my mum at work … Photo:
Ms Sheng says retailers and customers see more value in clothing alteration than they used to. If I can do it, you can do it’.” (ABC Radio Brisbane: Hailey Renault)
Now she is committed to giving other marginalised workers an opportunity to join the industry.”A lot of the staff we hire are from overseas; we have refugees and women who are coming back after staying at home for a number of years.”There is no class system and there is no need to think someone is better than someone else.”New business model caters to fashion-savvy menMs Sheng will release a book in 2018 advising men how to wear, style and care for suits. (ABC: Hailey Renault)
Despite promising to never return, she found herself back at the family business after putting her pharmacy career on hold to start a family.”As soon as I left pharmacy I knew I was never going back,” Ms Sheng said.”There was a eureka moment when I thought, ‘Actually, I really like this and I can turn this business into something quite big’, and that’s when I started to take on the business role fully.”‘They would close the door in my mum’s face’Ms Sheng said the clothing alteration industry had a better reputation now than it did when her mother arrived in Australia in 1999.Wei Ping Yu grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution and migrated to Australia with her 11-year-old daughter in search of a better life. Photo:
Clare Sheng and her mother, Wei Ping Yu, at the 2017 Lord Mayor’s Multicultural Business Awards. especially being in the clothing alterations trade which is quite low on the social ladder.”While Ms Sheng said she struggled with bullying at school, her mother faced it in the workplace.”I have seen with my own eyes people treating her really badly,” she said.”We worked with a lot of high-end retailers and they would close the door in my mum’s face while opening the door for a rich customer.”When Ms Sheng took a more active role in the business she realised her mother’s attention to detail and relationships with clients were the qualities destined to turn its image around.”She was the best at what she does but she devalued herself because clients have always treated her badly.”She would only tell people, ‘I can do this cheaper, I can do this faster’, which is putting herself down when she can provide the best service and the best quality work.”

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Ms Sheng will release a book in 2018 telling men how to wear and care for suits. It’s a good job, it’s stable, you can go have a baby and come back, you’ll always have a job’.”But when I started working I found I didn’t actually enjoy it.”You were either a pharmacist or a pharmacy owner and that’s it — there’s nowhere else to go.”

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Ms Sheng plans to cash in on a recent boom in men’s fashion.

School jumps into action after chance frog encounter

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Simon Leo Brown

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December 15, 2017 07:05:49

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This endangered growling grass frog was found hiding on a Melbourne school’s cricket ground. (Supplied)
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(Supplied)
Mr Scott said the school community was “very excited” by the discovery.The school sought advice from Melbourne Water on how to best provide habitat for their new amphibious residents.”Within six months we had a pond built here and ever since then we can’t keep the kids away,” he said. “They saw a frog there in one of the holes for the football goals,” Mr Scott said. “They’ve been attracted to the sports grounds potentially because of sprinklers.” Mr Frazer said the oval’s irrigation provided a “nice wet environment” with “lots of bugs” for the frogs to eat.Frogs hop to new home

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There are now 12 endangered growling grass frogs living near the school’s sports fields. “We have a huge role in keeping the plants well … The discovery of an endangered frog on a Melbourne school oval has led to the creation of a thriving amphibian habitat.A growling grass frog was found two years ago at a cricket ground belonging to Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (PEGS).Teacher Alex Scott said ground staff discovered the frog while removing the oval’s goal posts at the end of the football season. Photo:
James Frazer (right) says students have used the Frog Census app to record frog sightings. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Simon Leo Brown)
Student Erica Fridell said members of the club were heavily involved in making the pond a comfortable home for their amphibious friends. They can’t keep the frogs away either.Mr Frazer said the pond was now home to a dozen growling grass frogs as well as spotted marsh frogs, banjo frogs and eastern common froglets. and putting plants in, making sure they have habitat.”The students also set camera traps to try to keep track of the frog population, she said.Fellow student Alastair Mackay was lucky enough to have spotted one of the growling grass frogs.”It makes me feel happy, because I actually get to see it knowing that they’re here, they have a chance of surviving extinction.” Students make pond frog-friendlyMr Scott said since the original frog sighting, more than 120 students had joined the school’s conservation club.”They’re always down here checking out the different species of frogs we’ve got here and are just super keen to get a hands-on experience with nature,” he said. “The school has been using our Frog Census app to track the development of this pond from a freshly developed and planted site into a frog habitat,” Mr Frazer said. They’re not alone — Melburnians have recorded more than 2,300 frog sightings using the free Frog Census app since Melbourne Water launched it last year. “They sent me the photo and I contacted someone at Melbourne Water and they helped me identify it as a growling grass frog.”Melbourne Water’s James Frazer said the frogs probably moved to the field from the nearby Maribyrnong River.
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Former NRL player furnishes houses for those fleeing domestic violence

Former Melbourne Storm player Scott Hill has always believed in giving back to his community.After purchasing a removal business in Cooroy one year ago, the former footballer and father of five saw an opportunity to help the less fortunate.Mr Hill receives used furniture and gives it to people in need through the local SunnyKids charity.The Sunshine Coast-based organisation aims to build a virtual village around people and families in need.Families and individuals are connected with local community agencies that can help with their specific needs, whether that be escaping domestic violence, accessing counselling, or just providing moral support. Photo:
Scott Hill works closely with SunnyKids key workers Elizabeth Cocker and Renee Windred. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Viktor Berg)
Making houses into homesMr Hill said SunnyKids approaches him when they have a family moving from a refuge into a house.The SunnyKids team pick the furniture the family needs from what he has in storage and he then delivers that to the house.”Seeing the look on some of the families or mothers when they have an empty house and we’re able to turn up and fill that up with furniture…You turn a house into a home,” Mr Hill said.”That’s something that’s pretty impacting.”As well as taking donations, at every removal job Mr Hill offers to take furniture that would otherwise be binned.His business also does work for an interior design company who now donates furniture for SunnyKids and all this donated furniture is stored at the depot until required.”So some of our families gets designer furniture, which is fantastic,” Mr Hill said. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Viktor Berg)
SunnyKids key worker Renee Windred said one of the main things the organisation did was assisting women, men, and children trying to leave violent and tragic situations.She said Christmas was a particularly busy time for them and Mr Hill’s support was invaluable to the organisation.”I think a lot of people are still unaware of the magnitude of it and how much [domestic violence] does happen,” Ms Windred said. Photo:
Scott Hill shows stored furniture to SunnyKids key workers. It was just a woman and her little girl — I think she was only two or three — she was sleeping on the floor and had a few little toys,” he recalled.”We actually took some toys to the lady as well and filled the whole house with furniture.”The impact that it made on her sat with me for a while.”Passing values on to next generationMr Hill said he attributes a lot of his values to his nine years playing for the Melbourne Storm NRL team and his role in helping create the team culture as a member of the foundation squad.”That club changes people lives,” he said.”It’s about discipline, it’s about sacrifice for others and the team, and it’s about bloody hard work.”

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Scott Hill wants his son to understand the impact of helping others through the removal business. Photo:
Furniture donated includes some designer items from a local interior design company. (ABC Sunshine Coast: Viktor Berg)
He sees the work he does with SunnyKids as an opportunity to teach his children similar values.”The majority of the times when I [deliver furniture], I do it on a Saturday morning and I do it with my son,” he said.”[I want] him have a good understanding of the impact that he’s making, and understand that he should be very grateful for what he has.”I think it’s natural that people that are successful or have good lives; I just think they have an obligation to be able to give back to those who don’t.” (ABC Sunshine Coast: Viktor Berg)
Mr Hill said some of the encounters he had had with families stayed stuck in his mind more than others.”We went into [one] house.
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Former NRL player Scott Hill uses his removal business to give to others.