WelCom February 2019:
Members of St Vincent de Paul Conference in New Plymouth, with help from other parishioners, held a heart-warming event in the lead up to Christmas last year.
Volunteers who regularly serve meals at St Joseph’s community dinners, instead tried out their beautician skills offering hair washes, painted nails and massages to dinner guests unable to afford the full salon treatment ahead of Christmas Day.
A wayward piece of chewing gum provided the unlikely inspiration for the pampering event. A guest asked for help with some chewing gum stuck in her hair.
The person who was helping her said, ‘You’ve got lovely hair’; and the minute that compliment was passed the person stood up straight and smiled. Her whole demeanour just changed. We realised often the people we see don’t get many compliments.
That got the volunteers thinking what else they could do for the diners. It occurred to us many of the people we serve and see, couldn’t afford the luxury of painted nails and primped and primed hair and stuff that makes them feel good over Christmas.
The ‘punters’ loved the experience.
Judy Somerville, who had her hair washed by parishioner Precy Westbury, said, ‘This lady is doing a wonderful job. It’s a beautiful thing they are putting on for everyone. It’s awesome.’
Anna, 16, a Sacred Heart Girl’s College student who wants to be scientist, came along and painted nails for guests. ‘I know a lot of people do different things to help out so it’s nice to be able to give back to the community,’ she said.
Agnes Lehrke gave the benefit of her podiatry experience. ‘I saw the ad in the church newsletter and I thought what a wonderful thing.’
Community dinner regular Gary McGill said, ‘It’s just one of those lovely days. You know it’s nice for a lot of people to do a lot good things for people.’
Everyone left with a new spring in their step and an understanding that people do care about others, even those they don’t know.
The evening wrapped up with a visit from Mr and Mrs Santa Claus and everyone went home with a goodie bag of donated treats.
Gabrielle Carman is President of the St Joseph’s Conference of St Vincent de Paul and a member of the Catholic Parish of New Plymouth.