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Monday, 20 October 2014 22:19

“We’re Kingdom, not Church!”

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Mums CottageMums’ Cottage is a wonderful example of ecumenism at work for the benefit of all God’s people - a place offering respite, mentoring, counselling, advocacy, disability support, wellbeing strategies, education classes and leisure days, writes Joanne Isaac.

Words feature prominently on the walls of Mums’ Cottage at Holmesville: words like welcome, comfort, nurture, empathy, understanding and companionship. When you spend an hour with Sister Helen-Anne Johnson rsj, founder and driving force behind Mums’ Cottage, you realise that the words on the wall have real meaning here. Sr Helen-Anne and her team of volunteers walk the talk and improve the lives of all who enter. 

Mums’ Cottage has been operating from the Uniting Church Hall in Holmesville since March 2012. Sr Helen-Anne’s dream of having a place “where I could help Mums” has grown and developed and now includes respite, mentoring, counselling, advocacy, disability support, wellbeing strategies, education classes and leisure days.

The key to its success is the companionship and support offered to Mums. Sr Helen-Anne, who realised through her counselling that supported Mums mean happier children, sums up Mums’ Cottage: “We empower women to recognise their own dreams so that they can follow them.”

As Lorraine Doolan wrote on the Mums’ Cottage Facebook page, “Sr Helen-Anne reminds us that we all have value and a lot to offer. Mums’ Cottage is a place to soothe the soul.”

The Sisters of St Joseph, Sugarloaf Catholic Parish and Sugarloaf Uniting Church have been instrumental in supporting Mums’ Cottage and recently, after Sr Helen-Anne was invited to speak to their congregations, the Edgeworth Community Baptist Church and the Belmont Anglican Church have both committed to assisting Sr Helen-Anne’s work. Both congregations have donated funds and goods to assist in the Cottage’s operations and qualified speakers have offered their services to assist Mums. A member of the Baptist Church is now a member of the Board. Mums’ Cottage is a wonderful example of ecumenism at work for the benefit of all God’s people, or as Sr Helen-Anne puts it, “We’re Kingdom, not Church.”

In addition to the support of these churches, businesses, clubs, associations and State and Federal politicians have rallied behind Mums’ Cottage because they can see the positive effect it’s having in the local community. Mums who once sought help have stayed on to become mentors for other Mums and a team of volunteers helps with administration, counselling, education, casework, advocacy in court, pampering days, child minding and grounds maintenance.

Mums’ Cottage relies on the generosity of its supporters and volunteers to provide these free services. Like any community organisation, it would be grateful for any donations or support to keep this “great community asset” going.

“We always need children’s shoes, clothes, books and toys and we would love to have more mums and grandmothers come along to provide encouragement and support to Mums who are doing it tough,” said Sr Helen-Anne.

“We also need an Office Administrator or two; someone who could come in for a few hours a couple of days a week would be just terrific.”

The Adamstown/Broadmeadow Rotary Club has organised a movie night fundraiser to help Mums’ Cottage raise funds to finish its kitchen. This will be held at Event Cinemas Glendale on Thursday 30 October, 6pm for 7pm. The film is The Best of Me and tickets are $15 per person. You can book by calling Mums’ Cottage on 4953 4105. All are welcome! To learn more about the many services offered by Mums’ Cottage visit www.mumscottage.org.au.

This article by By Joanne Isaac was first published in the October 2014 edition of Aurora Magazine, the official publication of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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