Each year, for more than 30 years, a dedicated group of seniors from St Stephen’s Church Toowoomba host an event to fundraise for vulnerable young people in their community. Residents of Gateway House, a program of Youturn Youth Support, who are moving from homelessness towards independent living have been the lucky beneficiaries.
Bruce and Sue Tyson (pictured) of St Stephens Church have been tireless supporters of Gateway House from day one, and now in their 80’s are advocates for local youth and reducing youth homelessness.
“I remember the early days of Toowoomba Youth Service setting up in a room of the church right through to today whereby we enjoy catching up with Jo (Lloyd, Gateway House manager), listening to what they need and helping out where we can,” Sue Tyson said.
The church fundraiser this year was a theatre night, aptly named the The things we do for love. Appropriate because the local theatre was packed with selfless volunteers with big hearts who do a lot for youth in need and enjoyed the Valentines themed frivolity in four short comedy plays.
Jo Lloyd of Gateway House explains it is the kindness behind the fundraiser that means a lot to local youth accessing the specialist homelessness services of Gateway House.
“The fundraiser enables the church to provide in-kind gifts over the year to meet our residents needs from warm winter clothes, sleeping bags, hygiene items and a hamper or store gift voucher at Christmas… however the biggest thing for our young people is experiencing kindness and empathy.
“Our young people haven’t been feeling the love or connection to community, and so to receive gifts at this critical time from local people who care enough to give a little is a big thing… it helps rebuild connections, hope and confidence,” Jo Lloyd said.
The youth workers from Gateway House attended the theatre night too, and, mingled with attendees to let them know how their fundraising is helping local youth get back on track, to find stable and safe housing in the local community.
Most of all, the annual fundraiser hosted by St Stephen’s Church for Gateway House builds goodwill and awareness in the Toowoomba community, to help young people feel they belong.