Working together CAN leave a great legacy

Mercy Light: Connecting

Tucked away in a city street, within five minutes’ walk from St Aloysius College, is a vibrant and kind community that has been delivering much-needed care to thousands of vulnerable Adelaide citizens for nearly 40 years.

Sister Janet Mead’s Adelaide Day Centre for Homeless is one of the primary Mercy Works supported by St Aloysius College. The Centre, in Moore Street, benefits from our students’ voluntary support, fundraising, and donations of goods throughout the year.

From the minute you step inside the Adelaide Day Centre, you feel a sense of warmth and comfort, like being wrapped in a thick blanket on a cold day. An artwork on the wall reads: “In the face of ugliness, creating beauty is the greatest form of protest.”

The Centre is always abuzz with activity; the staff, volunteers and participants, engaged in the Centre’s outreach programs, provide visitors with a friendly welcome. The delicious scent of a hearty lunch, or soup for the winter food van, drifts through the Centre as you enter, and it feels like a homecoming of sorts.

For many people who walk through the Adelaide Day Centre’s doors, it is indeed a kind of home. It is a place that provides more than support. It provides community, validation and purpose.

The Adelaide Day Centre was founded in 1985 by two Sisters of Mercy, Sister Janet Mead and Sister Anne Gregory who both attended St Aloysius College as students in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Inspired by the Sisters who educated them, they pursued a spiritual calling to join them.

Sister Janet and Sister Anne were well-respected teachers for many years before establishing the Adelaide Day Centre in 1985. Although both women have since died, their spirit of service and social justice is just as vibrant as ever. Their legacy continues to positively influence SAC students.

Every year for many decades, the SAC community has provided support for the Centre. Each Wednesday, a number of students volunteer to assist at the Centre with welfare tasks. At Christmastime, the school collects items to be packaged into Christmas hampers for families in need. Perhaps most notable of all the activities SAC initiates is the annual Can Drive in winter.

Can Drive is an event centred on collaboration, imagination and joy. Primary and secondary classes are paired together and must collect as many cans as possible. On Can Drive Day, the classes use cans to create a sculpture that reflects a specific theme.

This year’s Can Drive was held on Wednesday June 28.  Impressively, the College community donated more than 9,500 cans of food to the Centre.

Representatives from Adelaide Day Centre attended the SAC Can Drive to participate in the occasion and to judge each sculpture, which were themed ‘Read, Grow, Inspire’. They had their work cut out. When announcing category winners, Joyce Van Der Sman, Coordinator of the Adelaide Day Centre and SAC Old Scholar, emphasised:

“We found it the hardest that we have ever found it to be able to decide who the winner of the Sister Janet Mead Community Spirit Award would be. The first judge said to me, ‘We have to award it to the whole school.’ And I think that’s the right spirit. This is the first time in the history of the Can Drive that we have had to award the Sister Janet Mead Community Spirit Award to every class in the school.”

“SAC, you are well looked after and you have a wonderful spirit here. You know that every single person, no matter if you’ve only been here for one year as a teacher or you’ve been here all your life as a student, every single one of you carries the same spirit that we carry at Adelaide Day Centre. It is what makes justice and joy work. Because you are all being yourselves, you are being thoughtful for other people, and you are all doing it together.”  

Joyce told the school that this year had seen a significant increase in the number of homeless needing help in Adelaide and that all efforts made a difference.

The cans of food collected for Can Drive will enable the Day Centre to feed thousands of people experiencing homelessness in Adelaide this winter. As cold days persist, it is heartwarming to know that Sister Janet Mead’s Adelaide Day Centre for Homeless can continue to provide comfort and assistance to those most in need, with support from communities like St Aloysius College.

Ms Maddie Kelly
Marketing & Communications Team / JAM Coordinator