Collaboration amongst the Presentation Sisters and the Daughters of Charity in Australia has produced a fruitful organization dedicated to those living in poverty and on the margins. Below is an insightful article from Global Sisters Report by Sr. Lucy van Kessel (Presentation Sister) about Ruah Community Services and its impact on those it serves.
“Open Hearts, Bold Strides” is the tag line of Ruah Community Services. It would suit any of our religious congregations today. I was a Presentation Sister working with the Daughters of Charity in a nongovernment organization — paid by the government — and doing “Nano” work. Our Presentation founder, Nano Nagle, would have felt right at home here!
Recently, and rather regretfully, I finished work with Ruah Community Services, which is a not-for-profit organization in Western Australia committed to working alongside people living in poverty and on the margins. Ruah provides meal services, mental health support, assistance in moving from the street to a home, transitioning from prison, dealing with domestic violence, support for aboriginal women and those likely to lose their tenancy, and many other support services.
I have worked in providing mental health support to individual clients, managing mental health teams, supervising psychologist registrars and directing workforce development for the organization. It has been a privilege over 25 years to work with 200 diverse lay staff who listen, engage, plan, provide hope and attend to the basic needs of those receiving the service.
Employees generally live out the meaning of “Ruah,” a Hebrew word meaning breath, spirit of life, wind. Ruah has constantly sought ways to assist those most in need. The service began with the Daughters of Charity Sisters providing a refuge for women and children and a soup kitchen for street people. It has expanded its capacity to meet many more needs today.
Anne was an aboriginal mother who lived on the streets of Perth for more than 10 years. We, Presentation Sisters, provided her with short-term housing, while Ruah found more permanent accommodation for Anne and her son.
She described living on the streets as “dangerous, because you never know what might happen.” She was often ill and spent the day trying to find a safe place, going to Ruah Center in the morning for a shower and something to eat, sitting around during the day and then looking again for somewhere “safe” to spend the night.
Anne was helped to move into and maintain a home. She was grateful to Ruah for support in this journey.
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Source: Global Sisters Report