Monty’s Place at Narooma celebrated Christmas in July on Wednesday, July 26 with a special feast and a visit from Santa.
Monty’s Cafe at the Uniting Church Hall every Wednesday lunchtime provides a free meal and companionship to the needy in Narooma.
Santa, aka Dave Rugendyke, arrived chef Gerd Tiedt and the volunteers in the kitchen cooked a sumptuous Christmas meal. There was music by David Oliphant and his band, good company and Monty’s army of volunteers looked after their guests.
Mr Tiedt said in its almost four years of operation, Monty’s Place had served up close to 20,000 meals or an average of 85 every Wednesday, with the busiest day being 128 meals.
He said he arrived at 5am every Wednesday to start the cooking process, using the freshest ingredients with everything being handmade, including the Christmas ham for Wednesday’s party.
Federal Member for Eden Monaro Mike Kelly also be joined Monty’s Place Christmas Party along with Eurobodalla councillors Lindsay Brown and Phil Constable.
Also attending was South Coast Careers College business development coordinator Julie Griffiths who handed out safe food handling certificates to a number of volunteers.
Mr Kelly recently announced a grant to Monty’s Place of $5000, which has gone toward a renovation of the hard-working kitchen.
The federal member said he had grown up in poverty after his family broke apart when he was a child and he for a time was living on the streets of Sydney.
“What makes us strong is looking after each other and I wish I had a service like this when I was growing up,” Mr Kelly said. “Hope you take the time to embrace all the elf helpers and just give them and all the chefs in the kitchen a big kiss.”
Monty's Place committee chairman Barry Flanagan thanked Mr Kelly for the donation.
“This generous grant will contribute significantly to our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all our guests, many of whom are disadvantaged and isolated, “ Rev. Flanagan said.
“We work hard to make sure they have a good meal and good company, and we must be doing something right as our numbers are growing all the time.”
And it’s not just a good meal and friendly faces. Each week representatives from Legal Aid, Homelessness NSW and South East Women’s and Children’s Services join the lunch to support guests.
This includes Vic, a men’s counsellor and now also representing Pathways Eurobodalla as a drug and alcohol counsellor.
“These services provide invaluable support to our guests, including advocacy and advice, and practical support to our homeless guests to find accommodation,” Rev. Flanagan said.
“A wonderful example of collaboration between Monty’s Place, Homelessness NSW and Vincent de Paul helped a young mum and dad and their kids to go home to their families, after many months living in their car.
“This kind of collaboration between different services is a reflection of our strong community in Narooma.”