Backpackers are bowled over
Gayndah soup kitchen is a success
GAYNDAH woman Gaye Tyler is determined to do her best to foster a strong community spirit in the North Burnett town.
The long-time resident is also determined to share that spirit with the backpackers that play such an important role in the community.
Mrs Tyler is among those responsible for the free soup kitchen program that has been operating during the picking season.
“We had this idea about helping make the backpackers feel welcome in the town so approached Gayndah Churches Together as a representative for the Uniting Church,” Mrs Tyler said.
“After all, if we didn’t have the backpackers in town the orchardists wouldn’t have the workers.
“Being part of the Churches Together is about being able to reach out to people and show them love.”
After the idea for a soup kitchen was first mooted, Mrs Tyler said representatives from each of the churches involved in the Churches Together group met and mapped out a strategy for the meal plan and service location.
“We organised a meeting and got the concept off the ground really quickly,” she said.
“All the churches in town work together as one to help give services like this to the community.”
Riverview Caravan Park hosted the soup kitchens twice before organisers moved it to the larger space available at the YMCA.
“After the meeting in late April we kicked off the soup kitchen on May 4,” Mrs Tyler said.
Churches Together also supplied a banner bearing its slogan Bringing Hope to the Community.
“Stacey from Riverview Caravan Park was particularly excellent in making us all welcome,” Mrs Tyler said.
“We got about 180 through on those first two nights but we needed to relocate to the YMCA just so that we could open it up to more backpackers.”
The free soup kitchen has attracted an average of 80 backpackers each time it has been offered and Mrs Tyler said the feedback they had received from the backpackers was what they hoped for.
“They are very appreciative of what we do and have said that it makes them feel welcome and that they hadn’t received this type of welcome in any other towns so far,” she said.
“Showing compassion for others and providing a free meal can do a lot of good.”
Mrs Tyler commended the efforts of the entire community which had helped get the soup kitchen concept off the ground.
“We receive donations from the churches in town and the church members,” she said.
“And a lot of people do it for the love of helping, whether it is donating time, food or money.”
Mrs Tyler rated the program an enormous success.
“This has been a large project of ours,” she said.
“By the finish time the program will have been running for three months, so it may run into August. I have been speaking with some orchardists about it recently.”
Mrs Tyler moved to Gayndah 31 years ago and said that she was so enamoured with the community that upon her retirement from the Ambulance Service she became more involved with the church and community groups.
“It’s a love for the people and building friendships,” she said.
Mrs Tyler said the love of being able to help others drove her work with Churches Together.
“I think being friendly and showing that hand of friendship is really important,” she said.
“If you can get the message across that you care about the well being then you are already bridging the gap.”
Mrs Tyler said the soup kitchen program was a team effort from Churches Together and community members.
“It has been funded by that and the love of people and the love of cooking, I have a great team behind me” Mrs Tyler said.
“Without that whole team this program just wouldn’t have been able to function.”
Gaye Tyler: They are very appreciative of what we do and have said that it makes them feel welcome and that they hadn’t received this type of welcome in any other towns so far.
LOVE OF COMMUNITY: Gaye Tyler and husband Russ are well entrenched in the Gayndah community after more than three decades in the town.