Youth follow Frassati in love of poor

By Ian Jerome Leong

In 1918, a young Pier Giorgio Frassati (now Blessed Frassati) started to volunteer at the St Vincent de Paul Society in Italy and dedicated himself to social action, charity, prayer and community. Almost a century later, the Perth Catholic Youth Ministry (CYM) continues the generous works of one of its patron saints by supporting Vinnies Youth and Passages Resource Centre, both Special Works of the St Vincent de Paul Society in WA.

Organised by CYM, all proceeds of the Illuminate Youth Ball on 18th May at Esplanade River Suites in Como, will be donated to the two Special Works that assist marginalised families and young individuals in the community.

Belinda Norris, Youth Coordinator at Vinnies Youth said the organisation conducts camps and a Homework Centre to aid in the wellbeing of children and teens.

“The camps provide holistic support to families, provide fun, recreational activities within a safe and encouraging environment, as well as respite for parents and carers,” Miss Norris said.

She added that the Homework Centre not only provides assistance to children who are struggling to complete their homework, but also involves an enrichment activity that improves students’ social and leadership skills.

Passages Resource Centre in Northbridge a joint venture with the Rotary Club of Perth is a safe haven for homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 25. Niall Rhatigan, Manager at Passages said the service offers kitchen, bathroom, laundry and computer facilities, counselling, legal advice, healthy cooking, street doctor programs and options for young people. A new service was established in the Peel region in February 2012 and provides similar services to homeless youth in the region.

“Staff at Passages work closely with the young people offering them support and friendship while assisting them with accommodation, education and employment opportunities with the aim of supporting and transitioning them out of homelessness,” he said. Since its establishment in 1998 till 2012, Passages have assisted 16,269 homeless individuals and a total of 111,423 services were used during this time.

Both Mr Rhatigan and Ms Norris’ agree upon the importance to raise awareness and advocate for the disadvantaged members of the WA community.

“Awareness of the Passages Resource Centre is vital to highlight not only the growing need of financial support but also raise greater awareness around homelessness, the reasons why young people find themselves homeless and the impact on a young person’s life,” Mr Rhatigan said.

Anita Parker, Director at CYM also believes in the need to raise awareness regarding the benefits and resources offered by the two Special Works. “Vinnies Youth and Passages Resource Centre are in my mind, quiet achievers of the work they do to assist young people in disadvantaged situations either with their families or homeless youth. It is an inspiration to hear about how they support and guide young people with dignity and respect,” she said.

“CYM is committed to the faith development of our young people in a holistic manner. The Illuminate Ball allows us to host a fun, social evening for young Catholics with a mission to fundraise for the two organisations.

“The flow-on effect we hope to achieve is greater awareness, support, financial assistance and additional volunteers for these important ministries,” Ms Parker said.

Mr Rhatigan said Passages relies on the generosity of the WA community to generate financial and material support to provide its services in the Northbridge and Peel region. “Any financial support the CYM community can offer will be greatly received,” he said.

“The support of CYM through the ball is fantastic and we are very appreciative of their assistance. It is really wonderful to be able to share Vinnies message of love, respect, justice and hope with young people in the CYM community,” Ms Norris said.

Ms Parker concluded that she hopes to continue an ongoing relationship between CYM and Vinnies to create a balance of faith development and social outreach.

Tickets are available for the Illuminate Ball and it is open to all young people 18+. The evening will feature awareness around the work of Vinnies Youth and the Passages Resource Centres, raffles and a silent auction.

To purchase or reserve tickets, donate prizes or funds for the Illuminate Ball, contact the CYM office at 9422 7912 or email admin@cym.com.au

To donate to the Passages Resource Centre or to become a member of the Vinnies Youth team, contact the St Vincent de Paul Society on 9475 5400.