#storiesofhope – Chappy Dave thinks outside the box to support teachers and local businesses!

In the midst of Covid-19, school chaplains have been passionately and selflessly supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. But what happens when the School Chappy is one of…

In the midst of Covid-19, school chaplains have been passionately and selflessly supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. But what happens when the School Chappy is one of those considered most “at-risk”?

Chappy Dave has a severe chronic condition (polycystic kidneys) and recently had a complete aortic rebuild. Weekly blood tests and check-ups are just part of his regular routine. If he contracted Covid-19 there’s a good chance he wouldn’t survive.

It’s why he’s been kept housebound of late. But it has not stopped him from continuing to provide hope and support to his much-loved school communities.

“It got real in the last week of term – that’s when the stress really picked up in the education space,” Chappy Dave says.

“Teachers had to change the way they teach very suddenly, which caused a lot of stress in that final week. It wasn’t just the unknown of the school calendar, but also not knowing if they are being exposed to Covid – working on the frontlines.

“There was a real sense of uncertainty about what things were going to look like.”

As Dave pondered this, stuck at home, he came up with a way to bring some positivity to the circumstance.

“There are two local coffee shops across the road from the two schools I work at – both were doing it tough just doing takeaway orders,” Chappy Dave recalls.

“I thought I’d shout all the teachers free coffee on the last Friday of Term 1. Both businesses made about 250 bucks as well.

“It was a really good way to end what had been a really stressful time on a positive note. Sowing into local community businesses, and sowing some love into the teachers – letting them know someone was there for them.”

For the teachers at Baringa State Primary School and Buderim Mountain State School – Chappy Dave’s random act of kindness meant a lot.

“At that stage of term, we were unable to leave our classrooms due to extended lunch supervision. Times were very uncertain and stressful,” teachers Sophie and Georgia recall.

“It was nice to have a break to walk across the road to the coffee shop and receive a random act of kindness to bring some positivity and caffeinated energy to our day.

“Chappy Dave is so important during times like these – he’s a ray of sunshine in the school community, for staff and families.

“He’s staying connected to kids with live-streamed baking lessons, regular phone calls and even delivering home-cooked meals to those families who are struggling most.”

Matt Allman, owner of one of the coffee shops John Kyle Espresso, says Chappy Dave’s gesture meant a lot to him – as well as the teachers.

“They [the teachers] were stoked – they had big smiles on their faces and kept telling me how much of a legend Dave is,” Matt says.

“Not only did this help the teachers, but it also helped us as a cafe in those trying times at the start of coronavirus when everyone was freaking out.

“It means a lot. If everyone did random acts of kindness like Dave, the community would be a much better place.”

In this season of uncertainty and rapid change, school chaplains are well placed to provide support for the ever-changing needs of Queensland school communities.

“In general schools are very routine and very structured – chappies in those environments are quite fluid and flexible,” Chappy Dave says.

“We’re primed for this kind of stuff. When things go haywire and break routine, chaplains are there to step up and bring some much-needed positivity to stressful and uncertain situations.”

Chappies wouldn’t be able to support families, teachers and local businesses without your help – thank you for making a difference in the lives of others. Visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.

Posted: 12/05/2020

#storiesofhope – Chappy Kev gets creative to help kids during Covid-19

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, hope is the antidote – and our chaplains are there to share that message…

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, hope is the antidote – and our chaplains are there to share that message with children and their families. For more information, visit suqld.org.au/bringhope.

Chappy Kevin works across three schools in Central Queensland, and although the grounds are much quieter than normal, one of the ways Chappy Kev brings joy and hope to his communities is with “Kev’s Story Time.”

Before COVID-19, Chappy Kev would read weekly books to the primary-aged students, and then they’d complete engaging worksheets or draw pictures that related to the story.  

“It’s good to be a little bit creative in this season! When we knew everything was going online, I pre-recorded a bunch of stories that have a wellbeing theme – things like dealing with anger, or what to do when you’re feeling scared. The idea is that the teacher will watch the story online, then go through the worksheet with the kids in their class,” says Chappy Kev.

“It’s been fun watching the posts get a few hundred views. I rarely get to connect with as many parents as I am now, so that’s been awesome. One of the teachers who was a little anxious about transitioning to the online learning space, teared up when she saw me recording the story book videos.”

Chappy Kev shares with a Grade 6 class

Teacher Carol Christensen, has been grateful for Chappy Kev’s ongoing support in this season of transition.

“Last Tuesday, when Chappy came to see me, I was feeling overwhelmed. His chat reassured me and reminded me that lots of teachers were feeling the same way,” says Carol.

“The new way of learning is still a bit overwhelming, but when we look back at the work produced every day, we can see how things are improving. I include Chappy Kev’s stories in my weekly learning activities, and have received feedback from parents to say the stories and advice Chappy shares are helping students to start their day well.”

“I’ll try not to get teary, but it is humbling and encouraging to know that Chappy is there to help. He is a vital part of our close school community.”

In addition to the education side of things, Chappy Kev is aware that students at home might be missing the familiarity of the school grounds.

“I also did some light-hearted filming through the oval and playground, telling the kids how much they’re missed at school. It’s important for the kids at home to stay connected to school, even though they can’t physically be there at the moment. It’s something familiar for them to see and reminds them that they aren’t forgotten.”

Like many chaplains across the state, Chappy Kev has enjoyed the opportunity to encourage and support the teaching staff.

“The fun videos are a great way to connect with the kids, but it’s critical for chaplains to be in schools right now for the teachers, too. They’re dealing with technology issues and juggling a whole range of online platforms – I’m there to check in to see how they’re going,” says Chappy Kev.

Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.

Posted: 11/05/2020

#storiesofhope – Chappy Beck & Steph’s Community Pantry is bringing goods to families in need

With Australia’s unemployment rate tipped to soar past 10% due to Covid-19, many people are finding themselves without the funds to purchase even basic goods like groceries and toilet…

With Australia’s unemployment rate tipped to soar past 10% due to Covid-19, many people are finding themselves without the funds to purchase even basic goods like groceries and toilet paper. A real need to support our friends and neighbours who are struggling has risen.

This need inspired Chappy Beck and Chappy Steph, alongside the student services team at Murrumba State Secondary College, to build a community pantry out the front of their school.

“When restrictions started coming into place, our principal floated the idea of setting up some sort of community pantry – two hours later our team was down at Bunnings grabbing what we needed,” Chappy Beck recalls.

“The pantry itself is two sets of metal shelving we attached to the fence out the front of our school. We wanted it to be accessible even if the school was closed down by Covid-19.

“We only had one shelf to begin with, but after the first week we were receiving so many donations from the community that we had to set another one up!”

The pantry’s motto is a good explanation of how it functions: ‘give what you can, take what you need’. Members of the community are free to take whatever supplies they need – or donate goods to the pantry if they are in a position to do so.

“It’s got everything people need at the moment. Pet food, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, non-perishable foods, basic pantry needs, snacks, breakfast foods – all sorts of things,” Chappy Beck says.

“We also have been handing out a lot of woolies and coles gift cards – so that families can buy the fresh food that isn’t always available at the community pantry.

“It came from a place of recognising that so many families were going through real hardships, with many suddenly losing jobs and finding themselves in need. It’s also a great opportunity for people to give and contribute to their community in this time.”

Leader of Learning for Student Services at the school, Kelly Klibbe, says the pantry has been a huge success.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Kelly says.

“Our staff in particular have really gotten on board. Over Easter, many of them used the money they’d typically spend on festivities to buy and donate supplies to the community pantry.

“They’re really invested in contributing to the local community – and this pantry gives them an outlet to do just that.”

With all the problems and issues that Covid-19 has brought up, Kelly says chaplains are critical.

“In terms of the role our chaplains are playing in this season – it’s vital,” Kelly says.

“It’s been challenging, especially not being able to be face-to-face with most kids, but having our chaplains here to be a support when and where needed has been incredible in these last couple of weeks, and will be really important as we move forward.”

Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.

Posted: 8/05/2020

#storiesofhope – Chappy Tim’s vow to help turn heartbreak into joy

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, hope is the antidote – and our chaplains are there to share that message…

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, hope is the antidote – and our chaplains are there to share that message with children and their families. 

In North Queensland, Chappy Tim has been busy bringing light to his community in a dark time, including helping to rescue a teacher’s wedding in the midst of COVID-19!

“I started at Garbutt State School in Week 8 of Term 1, and from the first day I instantly connected with the family-feel community. Because of COVID19, I could see there was some community anxiety around what remote learning would look like, and could feel a sense of uncertainty about the future,” says Chappy Tim.

“I was talking with one of the teachers, Tom, who had heard his upcoming wedding would have to be cancelled because of the Prime Minister’s [social distancing] announcement. Everyone in the school was feeling really bad for him, but there was nothing anyone could do,” says Chappy Tim.

“After I had a big chat with Tom, he said he and his fiancée were still wanting to get married, so I called up my Local Chaplaincy Committee Chair who happens to be my Minister, and they ended up getting married three days later!” 

Tom and his new bride are very grateful that Chappy Tim was there.

“Following a tough few years, it was heartbreaking to realise that we would now have to cancel our wedding. During a chat with Tim about how this was affecting us emotionally, he said he “knew a guy” if we were still interested in going ahead,” says Tom.

“We went from heartbreak to joy. Thanks to the support of Chappy Tim and his Minister, Jason, we were able to marry a few days later. We are loving married life,  even amid a global pandemic, and look forward to celebrating with family and friends next year. We are extremely grateful that Tim was able to provide this support and care.”

Tom and his new bride beaming on their special day!

Having just started working at the school two weeks earlier, this wedding was a great way for Chappy Tim to integrate into the school community.

“Unexpectedly, helping with this wedding made my entrance into the school so much easier. The Principal even thanked me for raising the morale of the school which was pretty special,” says Chappy Tim.

When he’s not busy planning staff weddings, Chappy Tim has been getting to know the students and staff. Having been a chaplain for 12 years, Chappy Tim has seen the difference a chaplain makes in a community. 

“There’s a lot of fear and anxiety out there at the moment. It’s been nice that the Government has recognised the difference chaplains make in a school community – it’s such an important level of support.”

“I think the role of a chaplain is unique in that we think big-picture in terms of well-being – the chaplaincy service really focuses on how you’re effective across the whole school. This has been really helpful in the COVID-19 situation, because we’re prepared for thinking about bringing support to a large quantity of people.”

School chaplains across Queensland have been hard at work, sharing love and hope in a time of uncertainty. And it’s thanks to your support that this is possible.

Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate/townsville-frontline-tax-deductible for more ways to show your support.

Posted: 6/05/2020

#storiesofhope – Chappy Riss’ helps with hampers of hope

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, hope is the antidote – and our chaplains are there to share that message…

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, hope is the antidote – and our chaplains are there to share that message with children and their families. For more information, visit suqld.org.au/bringhope.

Chappy Riss has been right in the thick of the raw emotions and anxiety faced by the students, teaching staff and families in her community.

“It’s a challenging time, but as chaplains we are here for such a time as this,” says Chappy Riss.

At the end of last term, Chappy Riss was able to work with the generous tuckshop lady to deliver food parcels to families in need, thanks to an incredibly generous P & C member suggesting that we do up some food parcels.

“With the food parcels, we really wanted to focus on the families in our community who were most in need. We were able to give them each three full bags of food which had bread, milk, drinks and other essentials.”

“It’s comforting to know that someone’s there when you’re going through a rough patch, and that was the aim with these food packages.” 

Chappy Riss showed support to her community by preparing Care Packages for families doing it tough.

 

Chappy Riss knows that emotional support is just as important in times of hardship, and she has been keeping an eye on the mental well-being of the students and teaching staff at her school.

“During this time, I’ve been privileged to have some really in-depth conversations with students and staff. I was really grateful for the last week of term, where I could talk with the teachers as they do some serious prep for what their teaching space will look like going forwards,” says Chappy Riss.

“One teacher came to me sharing her concerns around her mum who is a medical professional. Another lady had a family member pass away overseas, and she couldn’t get to his funeral because of the restrictions. Really listening to people is so important for their emotional well-being, and as a chaplain that’s what I can do.”

“Times of crisis are when people most need support. I would encourage my fellow chaplains to remember the value they bring to this space. We are encouragers – the people who bring a smile and calm to the chaos. We are the people who can bring comfort and really take time to listen to those around us.” 

Chaplaincy is not only reserved to supporting children and young people, it’s about supporting the community so our young (and not so young) people can dare to hope and dream in the midst of crisis. Your support is bringing hope – the antidote to fear – the communities like the one that Chappy Riss feels honoured to serve in. 

“I know of a little girl who comes from a difficult family background, so I put together some pictures and words for her to make her own story book whilst away from school. She was so excited to have a project to work on over the holidays! I could see it meant a lot to her mum too – knowing that someone took the time to look out for her daughter,” says Chappy Riss.

“What I love about chaplaincy is there are so many ways to be a light and connect with those around you. Everyone needs something different in this season, and I’m grateful to be here to look out for my community. I really love my job!”

School chaplains across Queensland have been hard at work, sharing love and hope in a time of uncertainty. And it’s thanks to you that this is possible.

Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.

Posted: 29/04/2020

#storiesofhope – Chappy Cathy’s fashion makeover spreads joy to her school community

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, hope is the antidote – and our chaplains are there to share that message…

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, hope is the antidote – and our chaplains are there to share that message with children and their families. For more information, visit suqld.org.au/bringhope.

Chappy Cathy has been a bright light in her community during the COVID-19 season. She’s sat on the buddy bench with kids to chat about the change in the schooling environment, been a comforting presence for overwhelmed teachers and brought joy to her community through a series of dress-up days.

Over the last few weeks, she’s been a chaplain for people big and small and your support has put her there.

“The biggest challenge from COVID-19 has been not seeing all the children at school each day. It is important to remember that the pandemic is happening alongside other issues that families are already dealing with, so staying connected and supporting them is really important,” says Chappy Cathy.

“Back when it all started, there was one boy who was meant to go on a cruise with his family, and he was genuinely concerned that he would catch COVID-19 on the boat. He needed someone to listen to his fears, and I’m grateful to have been there for him.”

“I’m usually wherever the kids are but over the last few weeks, I’ve been very intentional about going out to the playground and just being with the kids. It’s about being available, and being someone that people can talk to about anything.”

Chappy Cathy knows that creating a sense of unity is extra important in times of crisis – so she organised a series of crazy dress-up days.

“I really wanted to bring some fun and raise the spirits of the staff. We had a crazy sock day, a holiday-themed day and a “loudest shirt/dress” day, ending in a shared morning tea. It was fun to bring everyone together and to see them have a laugh,” says Chappy Cathy.

Two teachers get in on the dress-up fun!

 

Teaching staff across the state have been doing an extraordinary job adapting to this new online-schooling world – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Lynne Hamilton, who teaches both Grades 5 and 6, has been deeply touched by Chappy Cathy’s support.

“Cathy is an inspirational role model to the students. She provides ongoing social and emotional support, a listening ear and a caring presence for students who need someone to talk to when times are tough,” says Lynne. 

“She is a passionate advocate for families and staff of our school community, and provides ongoing support and guidance for all families, regardless of their need.”

Chappy Cathy has been bringing joy and hope to her community amidst COVID19.

One of the ways Chappy Cathy has supported the teaching staff is by putting together some encouraging care-packs.

“I am so impressed by the teaching staff – they are doing a great job in difficult circumstances. I was able to give out some care-packs – the local Zaraffas generously donated a coffee voucher for each staff member, and I paired that with well-being resources and Easter eggs. It’s a small gesture, but I wanted to acknowledge their hard work and make sure everyone is looking after themselves.”

“This is a strange time, but I would encourage other chaplains to know this is a learning curve for us all. It’s really important to not try and work it all out yourself,” says Chappy Cathy.

“We have the choice to be overwhelmed or we can embrace it, and be a great support for our community in this time. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, and we don’t have to like the situation, but I remind myself that I’m blessed to be in my school and to be a person of support in a time such as this.”

School chaplains across Queensland have been hard at work, sharing love and hope in a time of uncertainty. And it’s thanks to you that this is possible.

Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.

Posted: 29/04/2020

#storiesofhope – Chappy Marisa brings joy in and out of the schoolyard

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, love is the antidote – and your chaplains are there to share that message…

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. In this time of uncertainty and fear, love is the antidote – and your chaplains are there to share that message with children and their families. Head to suqld.org.au/bringhope  for more information.

Chappy Marisa may be new to the title of ‘chaplain’ but has already been having an impact on her community in this unexpected season. After just 5 weeks in the role everything turned upside-down, and new systems were put in place to meet the demands of COVID-19.

“My job in COVID-19 has been about putting joy and hope back into the children’s lives. Many of them are facing their parents’ stress at home, so we have been playing lots of games and doing inclusive activities at school with the students who were still attending at the end of last term,” says Chappy Marisa.

“We’ve been playing basketball and mini-golf and having egg-and-spoon races and giving students the opportunity to come to you if they need to talk. I had a child break down in the middle of drawing on cement with chalk.”

This COVID-19 season is hard, and it’s affecting parents, children and grandparents across the world. But thankfully – your chaplains are there to replace fear with hope. They are there to be a friend for the lonely, and a listening ear to the overwhelmed. 

“Kids, especially, need a support person. They need someone who has the time to speak into their lives and build them up when they’re feeling low,” says Chappy Marisa.

Chappy Marisa left a special encouragement for a family returning from 5 months in hospital.

 

“The students still at school are struggling and feeling lonely. We went from a school of 400 students to a school of 20 – 30 students in a week. Being there for the students who are having to adapt, and being their support person is crucial right now.”

“These last few weeks, our teachers have been working incredibly hard to set up the online learning systems, and I was able to leave little gift bags of cookies and easter eggs in their pigeon holes to encourage them.” 

This crucial support extends outside the school grounds. When a local family needed to feel seen and remembered, Chappy Marisa was there in a flash. 

“There was a family who had just returned from a 5-month hospital stay with a premature newborn – but the grandmother wasn’t able to visit because of COVID-19. I was able to set up a welcome banner, and leave a kind note and balloons in her place,” says Chappy Marisa.

“Because of what’s happening, this family won’t be able to have a lot of support from friends and family around them. And even though it’s a small gesture, it’s a joy to be there to show the love and kindness of Jesus – it’s why I’m a chaplain.” 

School chaplains across Queensland have been hard at work, sharing love and hope in a time of uncertainty. And it’s thanks to you that this is possible.

Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.

Posted: 29/04/2020

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