In this new season, children and young people across the state desperately need the social, emotional and spiritual support of a trusted and trained adult. To help keep school chaplaincy going, head to suqld.org.au/bringhope
Chappy Paula is passionate about chaplaincy. She’s been in the job for nearly 13 years, and says each day is a new opportunity to show love and hope.
“My background is in teaching, but my passion was always being a support person and a helper – that’s what I felt was very important and rewarding,” says Chappy Paula.
“Every child needs a supportive, safe person and environment, otherwise mental health and anxieties can really overwhelm them. I’ve seen children suffer if they haven’t got nurturing care. I like that chaplaincy is about walking alongside the kids – it’s very personable.”
“Because I’ve been in the community for so long, I’ve built rapport with the families. Many will openly share what’s been going on in their lives, and I’m able to help them as much as I can. Support looks different for everyone. One boy turned up post-COVID without a lunchbox, and I was able to feed him and find some food for him to take home. It’s often simple things that others don’t have the time to concentrate on.”
Over the past few months, Chappy Paula has been getting creative in how she can support families – particularly those who are doing it tough.
“Each of the three schools I work at gets support from FoodBank, local communities and churches, but at the beginning of May when I went in to pick up the food, they said Coles had sent in a truckload of donations to support families. I was overwhelmed!”, says Chappy Paula.
“They provided a trailer to get it all back to the school because it wouldn’t fit in my station wagon. We had about 240 cars pull in on the Friday morning when parents came to pick up their learning packs. The teaching staff and I were dressed up, and were able to wave to the kids (and some family dogs!) through the window.”
“We organised the car park into lane-ways (Year 1 pickup, Year 2 pickup etc.) and then at the end was all the food. Even if some families only took something little, like a loaf of bread, it was great to be able to give them something to take home with them. Anything is a bonus when you’re going through hard times.”
Year One teacher, Tania Collins, had a fantastic day manning the Chappy Food stall.
“Despite the overcast, chilly, windy weather, the atmosphere in the car park was full of positivity, pleasure and pride in being a Woongarra staff member,” says Tania.
“Chappy Paula is a great support to our ‘Woonie’ families and provides a very caring and nurturing role to all. She is never too busy to be a ‘safe person’ and provide a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and offer solutions both practical and spiritual.”
Despite the craziness of the past few months, Chappy Paula is grateful for the unity that has formed in the school.
“It’s been a rough few months, but I’ve seen a lot of good come out of the season. I think we’ve grown as a school community and have realised we’re part of a bigger team.”
“We have a really effective support team at our school – I work closely with the guidance officer to support families in our communities, and we have great leadership from our Principal. It’s lovely to see how we can all work together to assist and care for our families.”
It’s because of you that Chappies like Paula can bring encouragement and support to their communities. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.