Winter is an especially busy time for many Shoalhaven support services, which means the HMAS Albatross Community Engagement Team has also been busy providing assistance however and whenever they can.
The Homeless Hub is a front line service for the homeless or those at risk of being homeless. It provides information, a safe place, emergency provisions, a place to have a shower, do your laundry, grab a handmade beanie or blanket or a cup of tea with a friendly chat.
When the Hub recently put out an emergency call for cereal, milk and biscuits, the Albatross Breakfast Busters leapt into action and delivered an assortment of brekky favourites.
Midshipman Carina Forsyth found the experience confronting but rewarding.
“It was not at all what I expected to be doing during my Gap Year as I was unaware of that aspect of the Navy.
“I had never been to a homeless shelter before and as I walked in I was very surprised at the things people were asking for, just small everyday things that you wouldn’t even think about such as washing powder and little tubs of conditioner.
“I hope to have another opportunity to help out the Navy in this role in the future,” Midshipman Forsyth said.
When delivering the breakfast supplies, Chief Petty Officer Linda Eddington learnt that while the Hub had a washing machine - it did not have a dryer or even a clothesline, which was a real issue in the colder weather.
Command Warrant Officer Gary Fuss quickly organised the purchase and delivery of an industrial dryer along with a bulk supply of washing powder, using the charity fund which is raised by the Command Team on their weekly mufti days.
“Clean, dry clothes should not be a luxury,” Command Warrant Officer Fuss said.
“Whenever I visit the Hub I am overwhelmed by the things we take for granted and the work these organisations do in our community, and I’m gratified we are able to assist.”
The Albatross Command Team also have a connection with the SAHSSI (Supported Accommodation and Homeless Services Shoalhaven Illawarra), which supports vulnerable women and families in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven
Due to distancing restrictions, the Christmas in July event the team had planned for residents had to be cancelled, so they came up with a new celebration - Pizza in July.
A gold coin donation drive was held throughout the Command Building, which raised enough money to buy pizzas for the 6 women and 7 children staying in the refuge.
Petty Officer Megan Cahill and Leading Seaman Kara Knezevic braved the cold to deliver them.
Lesley Labka, Manager Shoalhaven SAHSSI Services thanked the team.
“We are very grateful for the ongoing support of Albatross and the timing couldn’t have been better as we are currently having a new kitchen installed thanks to The Sebastian Foundation,” Ms Labka said.
“When the Christmas in July they planned for our families wasn’t possible, they enterprisingly came up with this alternative.
“Thank you HMAS Albatross and especially Megan and Kara who came out late last night: you are our pizza community angels,” she said.