Large turnout to honour St Merkorious work at Charity Gala Dinner
“St Merkorious not only do a lot but they do it quietly.” Will Morgan, CEO of Payce Foundation
(Translation appears in Arabic section)
Sydney - M E Times Int'l: St Merkorious held its charity gala dinner on Friday, August 30, at Doltone House in Sydney. The function began with MC Fred Frangi before Fr Yohanna Bestawros blessed the participants. The speakers were: Paula Nicolas (Founder and President St Merkorious Charity), Danny Nicolas (Dasco), Will Morgan (Managing Director and CEO of Payce Foundation and Director of (Paynter Dixon). and John Sidoti MP, (Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors and Veterans). The event was attended by: H.E. Charbel Macaron (Consul General of Lebanon), Hon. John Sidoti MP on behalf of the Premier, Dr Fiona Martin MP, Guy Zangari MP, Mayor John Faker, Mayor Gulian Vaccari, Cr Nella Hall, Cr Maryanne Duggan, Payce Foundation directors Dominic Sullivan and Whelan Wong, Paynter Dixon executive chairman James Boyd and other dignitaries and sponsors as well as a large crowd.
In recent years, St Merkorious Charity has expanded from the provision of meals to other initiatives designed to address homelessness, unemployment, mental health, loneliness and isolation. Our food service has spread to the Fairfield Community Meal and Hub and to our latest venture called Hot Meal and Fellowship at Rhodes. This provides a bus service for rough sleepers to share a sit down a meal at St Merkorious Church and access showers and haircuts which they really love. The chance to be treated with dignity and have a place to belong can be a transformative experience for these people as well as for our wonderful volunteers. I must offer special thanks to Fr Youhanna who has supported this recent endeavour with great enthusiasm.
At St Merkorious we are always seeking opportunities to connect with others in order to make more of an impact. We have just finished working with Santa Sabina College, Strathfield Council and Montessori Academy for our Winter Appeal to collect donations. Our amazing sponsor Montessori academy has been contributing to our Christmas appeal since we started through their various centres across Sydney.
In September, we will be targeting the Burwood and Croydon areas and supporting St Paul’s Anglican Church with meals for those in need.
Our work with both Strathfield and Burwood councils is a major step in addressing homelessness. Along with Fr James we are working with all three tiers of government; local, state and federal to create more affordable housing. Only by bringing all groups together can we hope to solve such a complex social problem. This work is in everyone’s best interest as the Australian Housing Research Unit has found that keeping people housed is better for society than emergency housing and even prisons.
There is a huge social cost associated with homelessness
that we cannot afford to keep paying.
(Founder St Merkorious Charity)
Our involvement with PAYCE Foundation and Paynter-Dixon allowed us to take part last year in the Sydney Street Feast which we greatly enjoyed. With thanks to our volunteers it was a highly successful event. In November we are looking forward to returning and add to our involvement by assisting with the Parramatta Street Feast as well.
Our partnership with the PAYCE Foundation has also supplied us with surplus warehouse space in Melrose Park to use for temporary storage. With the renovation completed by the Dasco team and the decorating skills of the Sukari Group, we are almost ready to provide an inviting space for clients to access quality clothing and products donated to us. This venture is a fine example of what we can achieve when good forces join together.
Our charity has minimal government funding and we rely heavily on our generous sponsors and our network of volunteers to take on these projects. Unfortunately, the need for our services is rising and we need to grow in response to this demand. Homelessness is a pressing issue in our society and one that is not well understood. It is not about the absence of a roof but the absence of a secure home. Some people are living in severely overcrowded dwellings, borrowing money or going without food in order to pay the rent. Sometimes people are even employed but they remain unable to meet the rising costs of bills. If we are to prevent this flow of homelessness from becoming a flood we need to increase our efforts in these areas.
As I reflect, I remembered a conversation I had with Salim, my brother at the early years of Dasco. We thought of what we could do with 12k. Then we discussed as new migrants how hard it was to make new friends.
Salim Nicolas receives his award
As I look around, I see over 500 friends that we made since, responding to our call for charity. This a far greater wealth than the one we have accumulated.
Yes, St Merkoriuos is a charity but everyone of you is another charity, with your unconditional love to give. St Merkorious is Just the ambassador.
One last reflection is how this charity started. It started by cooking a few meals and you have seen it grew multifold.
It goes to prove, that our dreams are only a portion of our abilities and with the grace of the One above, bigger dreams can become realities.
Paula and her charity have been an inspiration to many
Danny Nicolas of Dasco
Paula and her charity have been an inspiration to many, they touched many hearts and changed many people’s lives including myself.
DASCO: There is an indescribable feeling that comes with giving. A feeling of satisfaction and a feeling fulfillment.
Minister Sidoti MP (C) with Guy Zangari MP (R) and other guest
We at Dasco pride ourselves in enjoy this feeling and in being called a family organisation, where everyone no matter what position they hold, is treated with the respect they deserve.
And here, I cannot give justice to the hidden support, my brother Salim and of course my partner, gives to the charity.
Everything I do, everything I have done, Salim has shared the journey, and this is of course, no different. (with one exception being married to Paula).
So to Salim and Dasco, a BIG thank you
I feel some injustice, if I do not mention Payce and Paynter Dixon. Not only did they have a great impact on the success of Dasco over the last 20 years, but they also contributed to success of the charity in many ways.
My heart felt gratitude goes to them and I will leave it to them to elaborate on their partnership with the charity.
I want to thank you all, with no exception, a special thanks goes to our fellow major sponsors and other sponsors, to our staff at Dasco, the volunteers at the charity and finally my friends (brothers and sisters) from my St Joseph church.
The Pace family have been supporters of the St Merkorious charity from the beginning. In 2013 six years ago Paula and her beautiful heart lead her to form an organisation to help those less fortunate and assist those who struggle to make ends meet. Simply by providing a meal as we have heard tonight from those humble beginnings in Paula’s kitchen and the support of the Christian Maronite community St Merkorious has now over 200 volunteers providing 4000 meals and supports hundreds of families.
Consul General of Lebanon Charbel Macaron, his wife and other guests
Paula Nicolas with other guests
Every second Monday Paula and her team not only feed all who attend the banquet at St Merkorious Coptic Church Rhodes, offer showers and haircuts, they offer community conversation, kindness and care. Behind the scenes St Merkorious and Paula’s army of dedicated volunteers collect and distribute donated food, consumables and clothing and they part with other churches and community groups to regularly cater for the multiple events for the vulnerable across city and provide literally thousands of hampers through the year especially at Easter and Christmas. At the Pace Foundation we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with St Merkorious Charity and share our experiences in establishing and running our social enterprise the Kick Start Café which provides training opportunities for young people on our construction sites. At Payne Dixon when the Catholic Arch Dioses of Sydney last year asked us to host the Sydney Street Feast on the forecourt of St Mary’s Cathedral, St Merkorious were there to help us share a meal connect and support over 250 vulnerable people within our community. Both Paynter Dixon and Pace are incredibly proud and privileged to sponsor St Merkorious as our partner.
St Merkorious not only do a lot but they do it quietly
Will Morgan, CEO of Payce Foundation
In this city there are a lot of people who claim to do a lot, St Merkorious not only do a lot but they do it quietly. Tonight is an opportunity to recognise the impact St Merkorious make within our community to gain a greater appreciation for their work and for all of us to dig deep and support and partner with them as they support so many.
George Ghossayn and other guests
John SIDOTI MP
NSW is such a diverse State, as the Minister for Multiculturalism I see the complexities on a daily basis. Of course I also see the benefits that diversity brings first hand and charities play such a vital role in our society. You play a vital role at grass roots level Paula you’re the closest people to the ground and you help those people chose in need. Which often means your best place to help those in need. I’ve been told Paula and we’ve heard tonight of your dedication particularly your volunteers and how you cook in excess of 3800 meals a week in the kitchen there in South Strathfield. That’s a phenomenal effort absolutely phenomenal you do such great work in feeding the homeless, in feed the sick, the elderly, people who arrive as refugees, you are to be commended, your work distributing hampers are to people in need. And offering safe places for lonely people to connect with each other is something I personally applaud. The work you do in Fairfield is also absolutely outstanding you volunteer hairdressers as we’ve heard giving people free haircuts, keeping them clean and tidy, giving them clothes, kitchenware, toys etc. The fact that you are investing in the skills in your own hard working volunteers and expanding into catering in order to make your work more sustainable again is to be commended. And it shows the lengths that you go to.
Paula and other guests
Sarkis and Barnadette Nassif with family members
Guests of PAYCE
Anthony Hachem with family and other guests
Anthony Sukari and wife
Paula with Fadia, Jackie, Mary, Mira and daughter
Roland and Mary Boustany and other guests