Founded in 2018 by Laurie McLeod, Audrey Van Ryn and Danielle LeGallais, Sunday Blessings has worked relentlessly to provide for our community and forge relationships with a diverse range of community groups.
When starting out together we had the common belief that no one living in Auckland City should have to search through a rubbish bin for food. We eagerly joined forces with Victoria, head of former community group 'Helping Hands of Devonport' and helped with their Sunday meal at Auckland Library.
In 2018 Helping Hands of Devonport had to wind up their services, this meant there ceased to be a single free food provision service for our people.
Subsequently, that was the birth of our official organisation made up of the 3 founding families, still with the same purpose of alleviating hunger for our un-homed community in Auckland city.
We worked so hard that first year - it exhausts us to remember it! Some of the highlights were working with Ian from the Salvation Army, creating a relationship with Chris and Wilf from Auckland City Mission and most importantly, initiating a relationship with tertiary education youth through Social Entrepreneurship lecturer, Smita Singh of AUT.
Fast forward to 2021 where presently we are in collaboration with fellow community driven organisations: Orange Sky, Tender Love & Care, Community Groups Feed the Homeless, AUT, Brown Pride, Glendowie Primary School and more. We also work with a plethora of workplaces and passionate individuals in a structured manner. As a result of implementing structure within this community unity initiative, we have extended the blessings far further than just the 1 meal per week.
Firstly, we now hold meal services at 6pm every Sunday, and for 12 months had a AUT student led Tuesday meal service. 8 meals a month was an absolute bare minimum, often increasing our services with an impromptu meal when we had surplus of food donations.
Secondly, in 2019/20 we provided day trips to guests who have mostly never been out of Auckland to the beach, facilitate clothing and blanket donations, are in discussions with an AUT about a 'Sunday Blessings' Scholarship. We also have a 'James LeGallais' scholarship (named after our youngest team member) for a male in hardship at Auckland University.
We have also helped the community of Glendowie Primary School to hold their own service in Panmure on the first Sunday of each month and are in the processes of fine tuning this service.
An extension on our involvement with Glendowie Primary, is that Sunday Blessings now provides an easy way for youth to safely get involved with helping their community from the comfort of their own homes. We do this by sharing our donations roster (found under 'Get Involved') with parents and teachers of local schools, then accepting awesome baking from children and passing it straight out to grateful guests. Perishable items are 100% accepted by our guests therefore by Sunday Blessings. This is something quite distinctive about our group.
Danielle (an AUT Law and Business student) is frequently invited to speak to groups of students and adults of all ages about how to get involved with helping our un-homed community. Through this she tries to squash some of the misunderstandings people have about our un-homed friends, a group she once belonged to and fought hard to get out of. By sharing this life experience and stories of our guests we humanise a group of people who we have seen real change in over the years, as well as inspire others to think about how to show kindness in their own initiatives.
Finally, (for now) we now help alleviate food waste on a large scale by working with many local retailers such as AUT cafes/AUT Events and Catering and sports groups like St Georges Rowing Club and Kings College Rowing by way of utilising all of their surplus from various events at meals.
We look forward to adding much more to this story as community support and therefore our impact grows.
Sunday Blessings Auckland is striving to lead by example in all areas concerning homelessness. Serving weekly meals is our way of building trust with our friends in need, ensuring that we are here to stay.
However, serving meals on Sundays is only the beginning of a long journey. We aspire to help as many people as we can to combat hunger and homelessness. Collaborating with a range of wonderful similar organisations enables us to make this happen.
We believe in "Less talk, more do."