Our team in Australia helped combat hunger and loneliness in Sydney's red light district
Notorious as the "red light district" of cosmopolitan Sydney, Australia, the Kings Cross neighborhood may not be a frequent stop on Grand Circle or Overseas Adventure Travel vacations—but in August of 2010, it was the chosen destination for a team of Trip Leaders, Program Directors, and the associates of Grand Circle's Sydney office. Led by Simon Kay, our Regional General Manager in the South Pacific, the goal was a day of community service, in hopes of brightening the day for the Sydney residents who most Australian travel professionals would rather ignore.
To make the biggest impact, Simon worked with an organization that has been supporting the residents of King's Cross for years: the Wayside Chapel, founded in 1964. By providing meals, clothing, counseling, housing referrals, or even just a few hours of acceptance, the Chapel thousands of people each year who live on the streets—be they drug addicts, prostitutes, or the mentally ill.
The Grand Circle team spent the two separate mornings preparing and serving a breakfast feast of eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, bread, orange juice, coffee and tea—for anyone who chose to drop by. "We spent time with the locals," says Simon. "We chatted with them and got to know them as they enjoyed their breakfast outside in the courtyard."
It was evident that the team's kindness and conversation meant just as much as the food they served. One of their visitors, a Croatian immigrant who calls himself "the Poetry Man," returned the favor by writing them a poem:
When We Were
You fed us when we were hungry
And said a simple, "hello"
With the voice of sincerity
And somewhat mellow
Through the sounds of a distant bell
Our hearts are joined together
With the symphony of love as well
The minds and souls are getting better
You disappear suddenly without sight
The star dust gently follows
I admire quietly into the night
The city acknowledges
The amazing day flows
This simple gesture of gratitude served to make those two special mornings all the more rewarding. "It was a wonderful experience for all involved," says Simon. "We all look forward to participating again."
Featured in our October 2010 E-Newsletter: Read the full issue here.