I have been so privileged to have worked alongside the Lipscomb students, who are part of the mission team that visits Brisbane, for 4 years. The team has visited Yeronga Community Centre and been part of the establishment and journey that we have made over the past four years. Lipscomb University Mission Team – Brisbane is an important part in the history of Yeronga Community Centre and has formed a bond that never can be broken.
In 2011, I established the Yeronga Flood Recovery Centre, with the assistance of our community, during and after the floods, which devastated our city, especially homes in our community. God placed me in Yeronga for such a time as this; never did I imagine that this would be mine and many others’ journey and that the lives we would touch would make such a difference. The Lipscomb Team has been part of this journey and what a journey it has been.
In 2011, we were fortunate to have the first group of Lipscomb students partner with Yeronga Community Centre (Flood Recovery Centre.) This first year with the students made a difference from their first interaction in our community. The team came and helped us clean out the shed attached to the facility that we were using. Team members braved the shed which had not been touched for 5 years; spiders and lizards ran over their hands during the clean up, but not one person complained. They also established the first community garden beds. Through the establishment of these gardens, our centre started a program which has helped over 100 people with garden assistance and also started our garden workshop program, which over 800 people have attended workshops. The students also interacted with the community members at Y.C.C. They sat and talked to members of the community who were lonely and listened to their stories with care and concern. Fiona (my co-worker at YCC) and I appreciated all the help that the students gave to us during this time, not knowing the impact over the coming years these young people would make in our community and the world.
In 2012, we needed more assistance than ever from our community and in turn the Lipscomb students, as we moved to new premises in Yeronga. Some people say that we were crazy taking on the building at 4 Killarney Street -looking back, maybe they were right- but what happened in that run down, unloved building, is something that everyone, especially Lipscomb University Mission Team, should be proud of. The building as you can see from the photos was a derelict building, which had been unoccupied except for squatters for many years. Like many things in a community, people were worried about what happened in the building and wished that it would just be knocked down. Yeronga Community Centre took over the lease of the building in 2012, with the view that we would be there for approximately 6 -12 months. The building, like many people in our community, just needed some love and attention.
The Lipscomb team arrived midway through the renovation ready to paint, clean and do whatever needed to be done. These young people did not ask or complain about the work they did; they crawled under the building clearing out rubbish, painting walls that were not straight or in any condition to paint, just being 14 or so helpful hands in a community on the other side of the world. The Amazing ZACH continued the work of the team after the main group of students left. Zach continued to paint, save lives on the footpath, and embed himself as a part of the Yeronga Community, making himself well known for his high vis work wear. This year the team made the most impact in our community taking a building from derelict to loved and each team member making a difference, with every chore undertaken by them.
In 2013 the team arrived at our centre ready and excited for what lay ahead. I think we have a reputation for the unexpected at Yeronga Community Centre with the Lipscomb Team but serving great morning teas and lunches. 2013 the group came and established our community gardens at our new centre and were able to enjoy the atmosphere created by the team in the buildings in the previous year. They constructed planter boxes, planted trees, moved unbelievable amounts of gravel, used tools under the supervision of the amazing foreman Rohan. They established the garden beds and work area behind the shed, which continued and improved the garden program, and helped us take it to a new level. The team also painted our boring picnic tables red, pink and purple – many people commented about the tables, saying they made them smile every time they got off the train. The Lipscomb Team continued to make a difference in many lives.
2014 the team arrived and it was a little sad that we had moved just a month before they had arrived. The little shop which they had so lovingly helped us renovate, we had moved from, but like the work we do at Yeronga Community Centre, we took that unloved shop that had been for sale for over 5 years and made it into a building that someone else could see the potential in to make even more beautiful and useful (but not as loved.)
Our new premises at Yeronga Anglican Church needed some attention in our garden area; the team, yet again, rose to the challenge placed before them. The garden area was unloved, uncared for, and a useless area for our garden project. But in true Lipscomb spirit, the team dug, shovelled, concreted, sawed, built, painted, and made beautiful the area of our garden, which is used every day by someone in our community. The team painted our playgroup tables, chairs and barriers which are used each week and took them from bland green to happy, bright colours which the children and parents love. This was the year that the wider community saw the Lipscomb team making a difference not only in their own communities but in the world. There was a news article in our local paper, which was titled “From Nashville with Love’. The story spoke of the great work the team had done over the past 3 years; we were so proud to have Lipscomb University recognised in our broader community through this article. Making a difference each year.
2015 Continues our association with the Lipscomb University team again and we are so proud that we can call Lipscomb our partners in our community.
Reflecting on the work that the team has given to Yeronga Community Centre over the past 4 years, I am so proud that I am able to be the conduit between Lipscomb University – Holland Park Church of Christ and Yeronga Community Centre. One person can make a difference in a community but many can change a community. Lipscomb University Mission Team – Brisbane has changed the Yeronga community and showed that through Him all things are possible.
You will always be special and welcome at your community centre – Yeronga Community Centre.
Yeronga Community Centre
Community Development Worker
and Member of Holland Park Church of Christ.