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.
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.”
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.
At this crucial time of year, please consider giving to our Bring Hope Appeal so communities like Chappy Cathy’s can continue to receive the gift of hope in their time of need. Visit suqld.org.au/bringhope today.