What is the secret ingredient to launching an amazing event like the Christ the King Spring Fair? According to two Parish Organisers, it is “working as part of a team” and “building a community.”
In September, the North Rocks school and parish community hosted a Spring Fair. Each year, the initiative of hosting the fair is taken up by the local Catholic Parish located in North Rocks between Parramatta and Pennant Hills. Funds raised go to the parish, the Church and to Christ the King Primary School. This year, 10 per cent was allocated to a designated charity. JRS was delighted to find that we had been selected by the parish to be the chosen charity of 2018.
In total, our JRS Arrupe Project Manager, Maeve Brown carried back a very large cheque worth $7600, presented by Bishop Vincent Long at a special mass in November. This generosity is enormously helpful in allowing JRS to perform our work in assisting people seeking asylum and refugees in Australia. On receiving the 5ft long cheque, Maeve smiled appreciatively, “I was glad that I was given a lift so I didn’t have to take the bus back home that day.”
The Spring Fair itself was a roaring success. JRS spoke to Rita Milic, one the Spring Fair’s main Coordinators, about the event and why JRS was the charity of choice for this parish.
When speaking with JRS, Rita said, “The main goal of every Christ the King Spring Fair is to build community. This year we wanted to raise funds to complete all our Parish renovations, to improve on the school playgrounds and equipment and give back to our local community through a worthy charity.”
“On the day, everyone helps out. It is always amazing to see the number of people coming together from different sectors of the community,” said Rita.
Some people grew plants for the community stalls. Others hosted activity stalls like face painting and football. There was even a “Da Vinci stall.” The food stalls were very diverse and included the Lebanese stall, the BBQ stall, the Dutch pancakes stalls, hot chips stall, the Mexican stall, and a coffee cart.
Other members of the parish also had a proactive role in the parish team including Maryanne Dwyer who is also one of JRS’s long-serving volunteers. “All the different facets of the parish and the school got involved to make the event a success,” said Maryanne. “Older people helped out in the parish. There was even a car-wash service.”
But an event like this doesn’t happen overnight.
Rita and her parish team approached organising this fair back in November 2017. “We started having meetings about the Spring Fair and sourcing sponsorship.”
Well in advance, the parish worked hard to ensure the Fair was well-known in the community and went out to local businesses to gain support. “There were four major sponsors – Stykris, Harcourts Hills Living, Oxford Bathrooms and Micrah Projects who donated $5000 each and many other sponsors donating from $500 – $3000 each.” said Rita. In the end, half of the total funds generated came from these sponsors whilst the other half was raised at the Spring Fair itself.
I asked Rita why her parish was so successful in organising this event. She said it was due to passion and drive as well as the fact that people come together to make it happen. “A lot of the drive stems from the children and their love for it.” But working together was crucial.
“Something like this is only achievable when you have a common goal and when you work as a team” said Rita.
Fellow parishioner, and JRS Volunteer, Maryanne, also emphasised the need to work collectively. “All the different facets of the parish and the school got involved to make the event a success.”
The parish is a very loving group that likes to sponsor various charities. Rita said, “Our parish is always looking to help others. It’s just who we are.”
The choice of JRS as the designated charity arose from a warm relationship between JRS and some of the parish members. About three parish members are also JRS volunteers. Parish member, Maryanne, volunteers at the JRS Food Bank in Westmead.
“We just thought that JRS would be great to donate to,” said Maryanne.
In recent years, the parish has also hosted JRS’s hugely successful “Table Talks.” At Table Talks, speakers from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds share their story of survival with a community parish.
Additionally, the parish has donated to JRS’s Foodbank; helping to feed those desperately in need. The parish has also been involved in the fun JRS “Cook 2 Connect” (C2C) event which involves hosting a dinner and raising funds for the asylum seekers and refugees that are supported by JRS.
“This has built awareness about all the great activity going on at JRS”, Rita said. “We thought it would be great to donate to asylum seekers and refugees because they are in so much need.”
Many JRS projects could benefit from the parish’s generosity. JRS is enormously grateful to the parish, the fair sponsors as well as the entire North Rocks community for their generous contribution. We would also like to take this opportunity of thanking all of our volunteers for their ongoing role in helping us to serve asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.
Be part of it.
Helping refugees and people seeking asylum is fun and easy. Many parishes, schools, communities and individuals help through JRS’s activities. For more information, please get in touch:
P: (02) 9356 3888