Friday, June 29, 2007

Op Shop update: Stories, Requests and Thanks

Here is an email of stories, requests and thanks I sent to the Solace/St Paul's communities. Putting it here for people who might be interested in this part of my life and also there may be some people around the inner north of Melbourne who are interested - if so please leave a comment with your email address.

Hi everyone,

It's now been 7 months since we took over the op shop. It's been an amazing time and when we stop long enough to think about it we are amazed at what has happened over that time. We've got a number of new volunteers, we continue to build good community, we've cleaned and rearranged the shop, we've got some good systems in place. Things that we would name as God/life moments in some way seem to happen very often.

Here's a few stories:
- a regular customer comes in most weeks with things from her garden or something she has made
- we dreamed of the op shop being a place to help people back into the workforce (we pictured this would be a long way off). People who are in this situation for various reasons have come to us as volunteers and their experience in the shop is being transformative.
- we've been commited to keeping wastage and our impact on the environment as low as possible (hard for an op shop!). This has meant that we have been in contact with a number of different organisations and donating clothes to a number of places who need them (eg. local supported accomodation places)
- we've currently got 10 school students involved in the shop, from 5 different schools. Many of these are students doing their community service part of things like Duke of Ed.
- one of our volunteers, Nick, died a few weeks ago and it was an immense privilege to walk with others close to him a bit during this time (please do pray for Nick's family). We miss Nick and have certainly walked the process of grief ourselves too.
- having regular days where sales takings are above budget.
- people who have been regulars in the shop for years are now involved as volunteers.

So yes it's exciting! Of course, there are days, hours and issues which are long and hard, but the stories of life certainly outweigh those times.

What are our current needs?

- Our biggest need is people!

We've had an amazing number of people volunteer, but most of these due to age, ability or comfort level are not able to be responsible for the shop at a given time. So we are particularly looking for people who would be able to give 4 hours (weekday morning, 9-1, or afternoon, 1-4, or Sat 10-2) to the shop and who would be happy and able to take that kind of role. As you can tell from the stories above, it's as much about building community amongst the volunteers and customers as it is about the running of the shop, although that of course is part of it. If you are interested but
couldn't do every week, it's still worth talking with me (eg. We have one person who does a Saturday every 4-6 weeks). As well as looking for people who can do regular weekly/fortnightly times, it would be great to have people we can call on when one of us is sick or away. Shiftworkers we are also happy to work with your roster! Feel free (and invited!) to pass this information on to people beyond the Solace/St Paul's network who you think might be interested.

Another need is just people around! It's great when people are on Station St and they pop in and say hi to whoever is working in the shop (sometimes we are there by ourselves - an offer of a coffee is always appreciated!). We're also trialling different things in how we offer the space to people during the week for a place to be, people to talk with and coffee and tea. People being in the back space of the St Paul's building and just generally around always makes the feel of the shop better. Would you consider spending some time "around" the building? (which will become a somewhat more attractive possibility with heating solutions currently underway!) This could be planning to be around between 12.30 - 2.30 once a week, organising to meet someone who you would be meeting anyway at the space or just having 30 minutes spare around Station St so coming in to sit and read. If you are interested in the more structured of those things (offering to be around at a particular time each week) please talk to me but otherwise please just keep it in mind and act as you are able. Over time, the building will be used for some specific activities during the week but currently opening the building in this kind of way is the only use of the back space during the day during the week. The shop is open 9.30 - 4.30 Monday - Friday and 10 - 2 on Saturday, so those are the times when any of this would be great. Our current times we more specifically open the back space are 12.30 - 2.30 but it is usable at any time by people who will wash up their own mug etc! Just let the people in the shop know you are going through (Do particularly feel free to let
others you know who might be interested in that who are on Station St a bit eg.mum's who might be looking for a space to breastfeed)

Thanks too for the part that various people in the Solace/St Paul's network have played in this. People have provided lunch on cleaning days, helped clean, provided plastic bags as we've requested them, volunteered in the shop, shown interest, prayed, dropped in, given clothes and other things I can't think of right now. Thanks!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Best food of the week

It's amazing how simple food can be so good! Had porridge with banana and golden syrup at Tin Pot Cafe on Wednesday morning. Had Lamb shank on Saturday night at Stuzzi. Had Vanilla Hot Chocolate also on Sat night, with a peppermint chocolate at CocoInc. And hot corned beef at the Wilson's last night ... strengely reminiscent of my childhood.

Snippets of the last few weeks

Well right now I'm in bed, having felt quite sick today. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Here's some of the events/thoughts from these weeks:
- Andrea who I went to school with and who I lived with in Year 12 got married to Anthony
- I went to Sydney for Andrea's wedding
- I went to the Good Food and Wine Expo with the John and Diane Thoms
- I had a lovely dinner with Dave
- Tracy, who I have shared so much life with over recent years, went to Canada on Wednesday morning
- I had a phone call to go and pick my dad up from the dental hospital because he had trouble breathing while they were removing his tooth
- I had a great lunch with Shaz, a long term friend who now lives in Brisbane
- I've had lots of fun times with the 18month old twins who I'm friends with
- Ran Solace Sunday stuff and used lots of the resources we've created over the years as well as a good idea I had during the week. But mostly did what I did from a sense it was what would be good to do. Have had a number of responses of it's usefulness for people, from some unexpected places too.
- It's end of financial year this week so trying to ensure things are in line for that
- I went for a swim
- starting to look for new house

Monday, June 25, 2007

Live your way into the answer

Just saw this on Just Etchings and LOVE it. I'm known for my statement "the question is the answer". I love the phrase "live your way into the answer".
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves ...
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.
rainer maria rilke

Monday, June 18, 2007

Too much alcohol!

Drive to meeting with friend (who happens to also be my boss)
Discuss having drunk too much alcohol over the weekend (too much over the course of the weekend, not at any one time)
Arrive at meeting
She pours me drink of wine!
I choose to drink it!

Too much alcohol - what's that?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Soul Mama

Last night Rach, Tracy and I (Op Shop Managers and Staff) went to Soul Mama to celebrate all that the last 6 months have been. It was a great night of presence and celebration ... and yummy food. We are very comfortable with each other and able to do life together in all sorts of ways so a lovely evening. We thought about whether it would still be good to do it even though this week has been what it has - but decided to still do it, and I'm glad we did. It was a rich time together.

Basking in the Sun

Melbourne is very much now in winter - I've aquired several new jackets from the op shop over the last year, and enjoying getting to wear them! Today the sky is blue, even though it's also a cold Melbourne day, and the sun is shining. I'm very conscious of basking in the sun today, literally and figuratively.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Privelge and the Pain

On the weekend one of the op shop volunteers died. A tragic death. His struggle had been long, real and hard. We knew him for such a brief time but his part in our life and our part in his was of deep significance. There is no doubt that in these last couple of months of his life the shop was a great part of his life. It has been a privelge to know him and to be a part of his life. We grieve his death ... but are thankful that his struggle is now over. Nicholas Serritelli we hold you dearly in our hearts and are thankful for your life and the brief part of it we could share with you.

And we are conscious of the impact that one person's death has on others, particularly those closest to them and to others who for whatever reason life is very fragile for. We are conscious of Nick's daughter especially. Also, we are conscious of others around our community, some of whom didn't even know Nick, who will be impacted deeply by this death.

This morning a few of us sat in the church building and put together an area in memory of Nick - candles, a cross, takeaway Chai's (we'd introduced him to them), water, words that we thought of as we thought of him - devoted, struggle, good listener, real, honest ..., his favourite cigarettes. We listened to Mia Dyson and the Cat Empire. It was special.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

Last night watched a great movie with a few friends - definately worth checking out: Stranger than Fiction

Time to Post again

Good on you if you've still been reading this blog - thanks! I'm going to aim to get back into blogging a bit ... I know I have said that lots over the years - but this time I suspect that it will happen. So many things going on in mife at the moment - internally and around me. Much that is happening in and around me is not appropriate for a public forum but much is too - so I'll try and write about the things that are. So stay tuned for much more regular posting (I hope).