Vinnies celebrates 50 years

By David Rak

The St Vincent de Paul Seymour Conference recently celebrated 50 years of service to the community with a barbecue at the retail store in Wallis St.

Seymour Parish Priest Fr Eugene Ashkar, former Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm, Councillor Rhonda Sanderson, Vinnies state president Kevin McMahon, deputy state president Michael Quinn and other community members were in attendance.

Food and drinks for the event were donated by Sue and Peter O’Keefe of O’Keefe’s IGA and Tony, Brendan and Kate at Seymour Party Hire donated the barbecue and gas bottles.

The first Vinnies Assistance Centre and Vinnies Shop was established at Keith St, Seymour in July 1985 and managed by Con Plieger.

In 1991, a fire disrupted the Keith St operations and it was not until the mid 1990s that the Seymour Conference set up its assistance centre in Anzac Avenue.

The first dedicated Vinnies retail store was established close by in Wallis St shortly after.

Long-serving conference member Laurie Corboy, who most know as “the face of Vinnies” in Seymour, managed the shop for many years and still serves as a volunteer.

“Laurie has served Vinnies for nearly 30 years and his service is greatly valued by all,” former conference president Paul Fleming said.

“We are very grateful to our current shop manager, Lily, for her enthusiastic and professional style.

“The importance of her care of the volunteers who work here and the profits she generates to go back to those in need in the Seymour community are invaluable.

“I handed over the presidency to Bill Keating a couple of months ago and wish to thank the conference members for their support during my four years at the helm.”

Mr Fleming said the scourge of homelessness was well known by all in Seymour and district.

He said he was proud to be part of a Seymour conference initiative three years ago that provided an assistance package for the homeless in the community.

“The project envisaged the provision of regular showering facilities and accessible clothes washing and drying equipment for those who had no such resource,” he said.

“Manager of Mitchell Shire Leisure Services Mark Gladman, supported by Mitchell Shire Councillors, provided invaluable help with the development of complimentary passes for the homeless to the Seymour Aquatic Centre for the purpose of daily showering.

“Co-owner of the Anzac Village Coin Laundry Sarah McPherson assisted with discounted coupons for operation of the washing and drying machines.

“The passes and coupons are available at our assistance centre as well as a full range of toiletry packs. Clothing vouchers for the Vinnies store are also available.

“As of this month we now have weatherproof swags for those without nightly shelter.”

Mr Fleming said he was proud of all the members, associate members and volunteers in the assistance centre and the Vinnies shop.

“Their work really is a labour of love. They should know they have made a difference in the lives of the thousands of people,” he said.

“Thank you to St Mary’s Parish, St Joseph's at Nagambie, all the shoppers at Vinnies and everyone who has donated to our Christmas and winter appeals and other calls we make for help.”