Charity Discovery Thursday: Fresh Start Missions – helping the homeless

It was a Sunday. Strolling through Sydney on a 5KM walk, we noticed a large trailer with lots of people gathered around. We thought a commercial, TV show or movie was being filmed, which seemed progressive given the current COVID-19 situation. As we passed the trailer, we came to a complete stop because we were puzzled by what the trailer contained. It appeared to contain large washers and dryers. As we looked further, we saw a full kitchen. The smell of fresh laundry was overpowered by the aroma of fresh cooking. When we looked at the side of the trailer, we noticed it advertised the name of a charity, Fresh Start Missions, on the side. I knew the charity helped the homeless and I needed to do some research.

Fresh Start Missions appeared to be making a big difference for the homeless and disadvantaged people accessing the services on the trailer. We were delighted to learn of this organisation and we wanted to share this charity with you.

About Fresh Start Missions and how they help the homeless

Fresh Start Missions are a charity which strives, as the organisation name suggests, to give homeless and underprivileged people a fresh start. We discovered Fresh Start Missions on the streets of Glebe NSW where our offices are located. We wanted to learn more and we contacted the organisation’s founder, Hamilton Gervaise.

Is your organisation unique or are there others offering similar services?

There is one other organisation in Sydney. We differentiate ourselves from this other organisation, offering similar service, by offering short-cycle washes – 15 minutes, so we can accomodate up to 26 loads of laundry in an evening. Additionally, the Fresh Start Missions trailer allows for hot, instantaneous showers. We do not limit the time a person showers. Simply put, we are unique across Australia because our trailer offers 3 showers, 6 washers, and 6 dryers in addition to the full kitchen.

How many people are served by Fresh Start Missions over the course of a year?

Fresh Start Missions serve approximately 3,300 people per year.

How are you funded? What percentage of funding is provided by government vs private fundraising?

We have never received $1 from the government. We are self funded.

What is the size of your annual budget/turnover?

Our annual budget is $30,000.

If someone wants to get involved in your organisation, what can we do? What are the areas of greatest need? Do you need in-kind donations, as well as cash donations? Are you seeking volunteers?

Donations are greatly accepted. We invite people to donate soap powder, shampoo, disinfectants, LPG, new clothing, and other personal care items. Of course, we accept donations and volunteers are always valued!

Is the trailer always in Glebe or is there a rotation? How do people know where to find the trailer?

We visit Glebe every Sunday 2PM – 6PM, but we often stay as late as 8PM. There is no cutoff time. We also visit Kembla on Fridays 2PM until 6PM. It takes the homeless a while to trust us because we are basically handling all of their possessions. Once one trusts us, they do pass the word amongst the community.

Feedback from those served

What do some of those served say about Fresh Start Missions? Dave, a homeless man, said he looks forward to seeing Fresh Start Missions each Sunday. George, who recognises most services feed the homeless pasta, enjoyed the fresh sandwiches made from Baker’s Delight breads, ham, tomato, and lettuce. In fact, he loved the sandwiches so much he consumed eight of them. Fresh Start Missions also cater to dietary preferences and restrictions, including vegetarian options. Hamilton says, “if we won’t eat it, we should not expect the homeless to eat it”.

A family-run charity, Fresh Start Missions is operated by Gervaise, his wife, daughter and her family. This is an example of a family who saw an issue and knew they needed to do something about it.

“When we get to Glebe, there are always three or four people waiting and they help us set up. We welcome their help because it makes them feel apart of Fresh Start Missions. It gives them a purpose”, Gervaise said.

If you want to learn more about Fresh Start Missions or you would like to donate or volunteer, visit their website today.

FundraisingForce are launching a new feature – Charity Discovery Thursday. This column will strive to introduce you to innovative charities doing amazing things. Fresh Start Missions are one of those organisations.