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Always People – A unique way to make a difference in the world

Always People, a Multicultural and Interfaith development organization that supports community projects in Australia and overseas, was re-launched at St James’ College in the Valley on Friday 26th September.

Over 70 people attended and provided a warm welcome to the facilitator, Jose Zepeda, as he introduced the New Management Committee.

The night was also a great chance to witness the fruits of some local projects with volunteers and beneficiaries from local housing and job pledge programs addressing the gathering.

Judging by the broad smiles on some of the people’s faces it was difficult to distinguish who were the volunteers and who were the beneficiaries.

Mary Gavin, the Australian Co-ordinator of Always People, said the reasoning behind the relaunch was to respond to local needs and to foster living in harmony in our culturally and linguistically diverse population.

“One of the important aspects of Always People is to raise the awareness of migrants and refugees so that they understand the richness and gifts of our indigenous people,” Ms Gavin said.

Always People is unique as an organization in that it operates on a flat rather than a hierarchical structure.

Mr Zepeda said this was intentional because the organization works to build relationships in partnership on an equal basis.

“The great benefit of the flat structure is that it keeps administrative costs to a minimum and
people don’t have their enthusiasm snaffled up by red tape,” Mr Zepeda said.

“The only proviso to being offered all this freedom is that members have to supply all the elbow grease and organise the financing on any project they choose to pursue.

“It works very well for pensioners, who love to stay involved with life, and also for young people, who don’t always find a full realization of their faith through Church services alone.

“We ask that people commit only to a level of assistance they are comfortable with. That may be as little as 30 minutes per week for six months, but once they commit we like them to see it all the way through,” he said.

In operation locally since 1994, Always People has helped raise funds of $2,000,000 for local and overseas projects.

Places in which projects have been supported include Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania and the Pacific.

Whilst proud of their numerous overseas projects, the Always People Management Committee stress that opportunities to make a difference locally abound and that age and language should provide no barriers.

One of the most successful local projects is a Community Housing Scheme established entirely for Spanish speaking peoples.

Local English classes and the Job Pledge projects, as well as others in health and education, are expected to increase and expand.

Individuals need only register as a Member or a support member to become involved.

Likewise creative thinkers or people who wish to propose new ideas or projects can make contact directly with the Management Committee.

“People in the western world often talk of a spiritual hunger and of seeking a way to enrich their lives,” Mr Zepeda said.

“Our members find this way of giving to be streets ahead of simply providing a monetary donation.

“They give of themselves and when they see the gratitude registered on the faces of the beneficiaries that is all that’s necessary,” he said.

Released by the Catholic Coimmunications Office

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