‘I will never forget the generosity shown to us during such a stressful time’ . . . How Norbie Care warms the hearts of those in need.
FOOD is love – and at St Norbert College both are shared in equal measure.
Our Norbie Care program provides homecooked meals for anyone in the College community during times of need. Many families and staff experience some form of hardship or crisis from time to time and the aim of Norbie Care is to support them with lovingly prepared and donated dishes that can be taken home.
The program – nominated for a 2021 CEWA QCE People’s Choice Award – ensures students at risk have access to lunch at school while also providing staff and students with portioned meals from to the “Norbie Care freezer” which are stored and distributed as required.
Student Ministry Co-ordinator Margaret Kyd said the difference Norbie Care makes in easing recipients’ burdens is immeasurable: “One moment I will not forget was when I presented a young man with lunch, his eyes welled up with tears, he gave me a hug and said ‘Oh Ms Kyd, I have never had such a wonderful thing given to me’,” Ms Kyd explained.
A College staff member whose child was in hospital earlier this year added: “I was quietly approached and asked if extra meals for the rest of my family would help, and it most certainly did. Our fridge suddenly contained lovely lasagnes, pastas and curries at a time when I didn’t have time to shop, let alone to cook and wash up. I will never forget this generosity that helped us during a such a stressful time.”
Norbie Care is strictly confidential. It works by inviting staff and parents to be part of a food roster in which they purchase the ingredients, cook meals at home and divide them into individual or family-sized containers. Any meals left in the freezer at the end of each term are donated the nearby Emmaus Community in Queens Park, a residential facility for people living with mental illness. Norbie Care has also supported families from St Joseph’s School as well as former families and staff at the College and members of the St Joseph’s Parish.
“I believe our whole community benefits from this program and it has changed the way we do things at the College in many ways,” Ms Kyd said. “The Home Economics Department are great supporters of this program and ensure that if they have fresh food at the end of the week it is either made into a meal and frozen or given to a family in need. The College canteen does the same.
“Many of our staff through their weekly shopping will often purchase items (toiletries, treats for the children etc) and bring them into Student Ministry to be given out to Norbie Care families.
“I feel those on a roster benefit from providing a meal as they know that they are helping someone else out in a very small way.”
Volunteer cooks don’t know who eats their meals – and recipients will never know who provided them.
As well as food, Norbie Care provides financial relief. Students raise funds for the Norbie Care program in Term 4 each year, which are used to assist families in the following year. Funds have helped to pay for funeral costs, food vouchers, utilities bills, school uniforms and other needs that families in crisis require.
Hampers at Christmas time are also collated through Norbie Care. “These food hampers are always appreciated by our families who often feel overwhelmed by the support of the College and are extremely grateful for the efforts of the community,” Ms Kyd said.
Those helped by the program often say that when things do improve for them they would contribute to the program.
One parent explained: “I feel incredibly blessed that my children are part of such a wonderful and caring community that supports those who need a bit of a hand. I just know that St Norbert College is the place for my children. The support of St Norbert College is unbelievable. My aim is to pay it forward when I am back on my feet.”
VOTE for Norbie Care in the CEWA People’s Choice Awards by clicking HERE. Voting closes on September 12.