The Winsome is more than just a place to get a feed. It does provide me with the nutrition I otherwise wouldn't get. The Winsome is also about belonging for me and being a part of a community. For me it has been an eye opener about homelessness. Before arriving at the Northern Rivers, I lived in Melbourne and the only place I felt accepted was when I went to my friends Simon and Nicks place. Since arriving on the Northern Rivers I have made many friends and have found some more places where I felt accepted and the Winsome is one of them. The Winsome provides me with friendship and company. Several of the people there have become really close friends of mine.
The Winsome overseas the house in which I live, Mazzer House. They came to my aid when I had a drastic change in my living situation.
I have been there over nine years now.
The best religious experience of my life happened in November 2000 when people on the One In Christ Fellowship which operates out of the Soup Kitchen sponsored me to go on a religious retreat in NSW. We stayed at Camp Ieoininia. It was here I truly found Christ for myself on the Saturday morning. I would never have found this if I hadn't been sponsored to go! It was a great time! Our Church is a vibrant one where anything could happen in a service.
I'm also a vocalist in the Bridge Street Band which meets on a Tuesday at the Winsome. My voice is my instrument in the band. I love being part of the band. I have written 2 songs for the band. One is called Girl in the Room Hiding and the other which is in the process of being set to music is called Little Girl Dreams. I feel accepted with my raw wounds and all. I came into contact with the Soup Kitchen in June 2000 when a friend of mine told me about it. At the time I didn't know how much I needed it. I notice at times that people at the Winsome also check in with how others are going and if they're okay. Sometimes I have been on the receiving end of that kindness.
For me it's a lifeline.
The Winsome is so much like home for me.
A couple of times the church has paid for me to go to Mayumarri Heal For Life – Healing Centre at Quorrobolong in the Hunter Valley for people who have been through child abuse. Last time I did this I was under financial stress so it was a real blessing and a load off my shoulders when this happened. I've really benefited from going to this place for healing weeks. I cannot thank the Church enough her enough for that.
If the Winsome shelter and the committee and volunteers that help run it were not here then lots of people like me would be lost without it.