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Transformational Tuesdays at Eastlakes Corps – with ukuleles

Two volunteers at Eastlakes Corps play ukuleles at Café 360.

It’s a regular Tuesday morning at Eastlakes Corps in Belmont, south of Newcastle (NSW). Café 360 is open, and a few people sit around tables. Doorways volunteers are chatting with emergency relief clients. One volunteer strums a tune on her ukulele, adding a relaxed vibe to the space.


Tuesdays are emergency relief days at the corps, and volunteers serve hand-in-hand with employees to create the best experience possible for the community members who access the corps for assistance.


James Edmonds, a Salvos Doorways case worker, and Krysti Prytz, a Salvos Homelessness case manager, both work from Eastlakes each Tuesday. Corps Officers Auxiliary-Lieutenants Bernie and Terri Muendel love having them as part of the fabric on this day.

Krysti Prytz from the National Homelessness team and James Edmonds from Doorways are part of the team at Eastlakes Salvos on Tuesdays.

We have a number of people who are living in their cars, and they come here and do their washing and have a cuppa,” says Terri. “It’s so great to have a homelessness support worker to refer them to so that they can get the specialist support they need, whilst our corps staff and volunteers support them with kindness, food, a listening ear and invitations to the different programs that we offer.”


A queue is forming in the foyer, with people lining up to put their names down to shop at the food pantry. This queue is intentional – people used to all race in at once, grab what they wanted and race out. It was a bit chaotic.


This queue means that the team takes three people into the pantry at a time, they get to know their names, connect with them, and community members have less stress as they can take their time choosing what they need.


The queue dissipates once names are taken as the people start to mill together, chatting while they wait, sitting on lounges in the foyer, making connections, or having coffee at the café.

Some of the Eastlakes Salvos Doorways and Corps Reception volunteers with Corps Officer Aux-Lieut Terri Muendel.

The café, which opened at the start of 2022, has a pay-it-forward system whereby members of the public can donate so that community members who come to the corps for assistance can have a free beverage of their choice.


“To have a café that serves the community had been something we had dreamed of and prayed for,” says Terri. “When we found the right person to lead the café team, things just fell into place.”


That person is Rani Prassad-Ferris – the Café 360 Team Leader – who started as a volunteer and pulled together a team of volunteers to get the café running. “Rani is so good!” Terri beams. “She has gathered this amazing team, and they work so well even when Rani can’t be here.”

Café 360 manager Rani Prassad-Ferris (second from left) and some of her team of volunteers.

The team is an eclectic group of volunteers comprised of retired doctors, a retired anesthetist, a retired school principal, corps members and some mutual obligation volunteers. Terri says they work brilliantly together.


Salvation Army Volunteer Resources Advisor Emily Blackstock recently visited the centre and said she was overwhelmed with the way that she saw all streams of The Salvation Army working together.


“I realised what I was seeing and experiencing was true community,” Emily said. “When Terri stood up before the lunch service and prayed a blessing over everyone present, the whole room resounded with a big ‘AMEN!’


“This is church!”


The auditorium, where church services are held, has its doors wide open despite no activity or service being held inside. “We never want anyone to think the doors to God’s house are closed to them,” says Terri.


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