FOOD FOR THE SOUL – COMMUNITY CARE KITCHEN BONDI
Every Wednesday the doors to the dining room of the Order of Malta Community Care Kitchen in Bondi open, and a steady stream of guests flow in. The atmosphere is jovial and friendly and each week there are a number of familiar faces – a good sign that the volunteers are doing the right thing and making a difference on a personal level.
This week, member of the Order of Malta Jean-Pierre, or “JP” as he is known, is ‘head chef’ and his work starts before the 6.30pm opening time.
“For me, planning starts well before the day of service, and I always do a test run at home, where my family are the guinea pigs” explained JP. “On the day of service I do a shop and complete most of the preparation from home. I then transport everything to Bondi to complete the final cook at the kitchen.”
In addition to the role of ‘head chef’, each service of the Community Care Kitchen has approximately five volunteers on hand who help set up, prepare and serve the food as well as clearing away at the end. However as JP stresses, amongst these duties “it is essential that we take the time to chat with and get to know our guests.” He concedes, “doing it all can be exhausting but very spirituality satisfying”.
This week, JP was joined by his 14 year-old son, Christian, who asked to accompany his father as part of his school’s Community Care Program. The experience proved to be edifying and eye-opening and he was most interested in the life-stories of those he met.
Whilst this was Christian’s first experience, JP has been volunteering with the Order of Malta since 2005. While living in Scandinavia for 3 years he helped the Missionaries of Charity in Copenhagen by volunteering in their soup kitchen. This put him face-to-face with the needy and directly helping them. When the opportunity arose back at home in Sydney at the Community Care Kitchen in Bondi he did not hesitate and was present for the opening night of service and has been a regular volunteer ever since.
When asked what has surprised him most about our guests, JP did not hesitate, “that they come from all walks of life; over the years I’ve met former stockbrokers, medicos, chefs, television producers, as well as those to whom life has been difficult since their early years. They are always very happy after the meal and it makes me happy to have contributed to their feeling and the smiles that I see. It’s all part of our purpose and one of our missions, “the serving of our lords, the sick and poor”.
The Order of Malta Community Care Kitchen in Bondi is open every Wednesday between 6.30pm and 7.30pm. It is staffed by volunteers and offers a warm meal and welcome to anyone in need.
Location: St Patrick’s Catholic Church, 2 Wellington St, Bondi NSW 2026 (just off Bondi Road)
Interested in volunteering? Complete our volunteer enquiry form
Want to make a tax deductible donation to the Community Care Kitchen? Visit our donation page.