CROSSWAYS in Kelmscott took its Railway Avenue opportunity shop and transformed it into a one-stop service for some of Armadale's most vulnerable people.
Its services were once scattered, with Meals on Wheels in Camillo, offices in Kelmscott, emergency relief in Armadale and the op shop on Railway Avenue.
Volunteer Jeffrey Williams said when the video store next to the op shop closed down two years ago and became available for use, he and the not-for-profit organisation’s director saw an opportunity.
They secured a $306,000 Lotterywest grant and Mr Williams retired from lecturing at Armadale Tafe and became project co-ordinator.
He organised the sites to be joined and re-fitted to form the Eleos Centre (eleos is Greek for ‘active compassion’).
The centre homes all the old services and some new ones, with many of the local tradespeople employed going far beyond the call of duty.
‘Virtually everyone I have spoken to has fallen over backwards to help me,’ Mr Williams said.
‘It is endless what we can do here.
‘I’ve been a Kelmscott local for 42 years and this is a great community.’
The furniture shed and storage building behind the centre has become a Men’s Shed. Inside, a new kitchen churns out 100 healthy Meals on Wheels a day, and runs a catering service and public cafe.
A low-cost food pantry filled by Foodbank caters for clients who qualify for food relief.
Those who are struggling to pay their power bills or dealing with other personal crises receive counselling, emergency relief and referrals to aid agencies, trauma centres, legal services and financial counsellors.
Training rooms are hired out to organisations and will eventually be used to up-skill unemployed clients.
‘People want jobs but are unsure about how to approach organisations,’ Mr Williams said.
‘We can outfit them with skills in the training centre and the Men’s Shed and give them references and even interview clothes from the op shop.’
The Men’s Shed will support the op shop by fixing furniture and other items to make them saleable.
With only a couple of paid staff, a team of 30 to 40 volunteers operates Crossways.
Many have themselves already gained hospitality and retail skills that enabled them to move on to other jobs after their time volunteering there.
‘Looking now at what was once just a big shed gives me great satisfaction,’ Mr Williams said.
– Crossways is holding a morning tea to recruit members for its new Men’s Shed on Friday, October 31 at 10am. Call Mr Williams for details on 0411 726 631.