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• Coats and conversations


Keeping the Gold Coast warm. From left to right: Coat Tree founder and Salvationist Kevin Lawler; Sam O'Connor, State Member for Bonney; Major Earle Ivers, Gold Coast Temple Corps Officer; and Desmay, volunteer.

By CLIFF WORTHING

Coats and conversations are warming hearts of Gold Coast residents doing it tough.


Coats, jackets and shoes donated by Salvos stores and local workers are hung on a tree near the Southport Courthouse for those feeling the cold to access for free. This is the fourth Gold Coast winter that the Coat Tree has operated.


Salvationist Kevin Lawler from the Gold Coast Temple Corps, began the Coat Tree as a volunteer. He is now employed as a community engagement worker and is supported by a few volunteers.


Kevin, right, speaking with locals at the Coat Tree in Southport.

“We are having really cool conversations,” Kevin said. “People are hurting. They want to be heard and they feel safe sharing with the Salvos.”


Just this week, a person struck up a conversation with Kevin about his situation. Kevin supported him through his court appearance, referred him to Fairhaven (Gold Coast Recovery Services) and will keep the relationship going through the corps’ Positive Lifestyle Program.


“We are now receiving lots of quality donations of coats and jackets from workers in the courthouse precinct,” Kevin said. “This week a person donated one hundred pairs of thongs because often people experiencing homelessness don’t have shoes.


“We are meeting a need and having everyday conversations, including faith conversations,” Kevin said.


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