Would you like to consider donating to or being a sponsor of this exciting ministry which commits itself week after week to helping ordinary people like you and me who face complex and difficult problems in terribly stressful and often horrendous circumstances.
If you would like to talk about this please contact:
Matt James 0409 725 313
Please makes cheques payable to THE DINING ROOM MISSION.
The Dining Room Mission
PO Box 4236
Croydon Hills,VIC 3136
Some reflections from Volunteers
My preconceptions of a solemn and gloomy ‘free food service’ have since been dashed as every week I soak up the warm and welcoming atmosphere created by David and the volunteers at TDR Mission. First time volunteers at TDR Mission are given plenty of time to adjust to this new experience and can simply serve food without feeling pressured to engage fully with guests. Over time, interaction develops as personal comfort builds. I guess this is why I keep returning to volunteer at TDR Mission. I wanted nothing more than just to talk to diners and earn their trust and respect but I was too nervous to converse with anyone. Basically, I was intimidated. David Knoop, however, has created a caring environment where it is hard to feel intimidated by anyone. This meant that, with time, I could talk to more and more people until eventually I became a familiar face to guests. This is the only hurdle to jump at TDR Mission. Once hurdled you can settle in and do what you went there to do, help people. David has taught me that helping people isn’t just giving them free food when they cannot afford it, but it’s more about talking with them over dinner, asking about their week and being a friendly face. I have learnt that helping people can be a simple “hello, how are you?” Now that I am fully settled in, I laugh at how different it is to what I originally thought a free food service would be. There is nothing sad or gloomy about TDR Mission and that in itself is enough to see guests returning week after week. First time guests to TDR Mission often wait outside wary and unsure whether to come in, but on hearing the chatter and laughs which spill out the doors, more often find the temptation too great to ignore. There’s no denying the sense of community and it’s often quite a challenge, at the beginning of the evenings, to interrupt this socialising so we can pray and celebrate birthdays.
Deciding to commit to volunteering has been one of the most rewarding and beneficial decisions of my life. I am more aware and therefore have more empathy toward those people in the community who are in a more challenging and disadvantaged situation than myself. I have found that spending a few hours volunteering on a Tuesday night not only enriches someone else’s life, but it also enriches my own.
Cam Chapman, Year 12, Oxley College
One of the places in which I feel most at home and happy is The Dining Room Mission.
When I arrive on Tuesday evening I see familiar faces which together make a community of guests and volunteers that I know I’m a part of, and one that accepts and understands the people in it. I am always greeted by smiling faces and I leave feeling uplifted and encouraged.
At first, I didn’t find it easy to talk to the guests. I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to say or how to act. I thought I might just annoy them or be a nuisance. I thought they would be rude and ignore me. I was so wrong.
In time, I have been able to step out of my comfort zone and talk to these people I had previously just stared at. And this experience has taught me a lot and changed my perceptions about homeless people. I am continually amazed at how authentic and real they are and how open and honest they are about their lives.
The atmosphere that David Knoop has created is one of physical and emotional safety and security. I feel safe to help and serve the guests just as they feel safe to share who they are and their personal experiences. This is a place that accepts people, no matter what they’ve done, where they’ve been or what they look like. There are no negative judgmental attitudes here – there’s only genuine compassion. I know that I am a member of a team of volunteers with good hearts, and the guests know that too.
There are so many things I do for myself during the week yet I’m learning to make time to do things for others. This is really important to me. I am proud to be part of TDR Mission. It has helped add meaning to my life and feel that it’s worthwhile, that it matters, that I really can make a difference. Also it has helped me with my faith. This self-discovery is something that is priceless and invaluable just like my experience at The Dining Room Mission – priceless and invaluable.
Lisa Dittrich, Year 12 Luther College
TDR Mission provides real community
It’s an accepting and inclusive environment where everyone is welcomed and is made to feel valued and loved. Whether you come to serve as a volunteer or enjoy a meal as a guest, everyone is cared for.
I have been coming weekly for more than two years to co-ordinate the waiters’ team. I designate individual waiters to tables and, together with the kitchen team who provide wonderful meals, I look after the guests during their stay with us. We try to make sure all guests are cared for and feel relaxed in a safe and caring environment where they are able to take time to enjoy their meals and some conversation.
Originally I found it challenging to move out of my comfort zone and do something which, in some small way, I hoped would help those in the community who were less fortunate than me and finding life and its challenges difficult. Now, I find that TDR Mission feels like home for me and when greeted with smiles and conversation from both the guests and volunteers, I feel privileged to be part of this wonderful organization.
I find the whole experience satisfying and am particularly inspired by the many young people who spend time volunteering on a regular basis. The kind and caring way they approach the guests with a smile and understanding is wonderful. It is a delight to work with them and get to know them.
David Knoop and our team of volunteers have created an environment where everyone feels safe, valued and cared for. It’s not just about providing a nourishing meal but valuing the whole person and connecting in an authentic and sensitive way. I have gained so much from experiencing this community. This sense of belonging has been invaluable for me.
Phil Moran, Engineering Draughtsman