On Monday the 23rd of February, Westcare was joined with The Salvation Army Southern Territory Commissioners Floyd Tidd and Tracey Tidd.
Majors Mike Coleman and Annette Coleman and Major Jenny Begent Melbourne Central Divisional Headquarters were also in attendance.
Following an introductory information session Westcare welcomed the guests with morning tea in the Sunshine Community Garden.
Commissioners Floyd Tidd & Tracey Tidd with Westcare General Manager Peter Mulholland
Community Garden volunteers Karen and Stan provided a table of fresh fruit and vegetables harvested from the garden, available for purchase with a gold coin donation. The Commissioners learned about the Community Garden and its support to those less fortunate in the community. All donations are given to local charities and surplus crops are given to food vans for the homeless in Sunshine.
Fresh produce from the Sunshine Community Garden
Floyd and Tracey Tidd then travelled to Melton Foster Care to meet with Volunteers carers and Foster Care staff.
Jill Wain, Senior Manager for Home Based Care in Melton hosted the informal forum which saw Carers generously share their personal experiences in Fostering.
Tracey Tidd with infant fostered through Westcare's Melton Foster Care
Foster Carer Leonie discussed raising more than 275 infants in her care over 30 years.
She described the joy in seeing many of the children that she raised, go on to have children of their own.
Leonie also identified the hardest part of Fostering; “The most difficult part of what we do is the giving up of the child” but emphasised the importance of children moving to "forever" families.
Despite difficulties in saying goodbye, she conceded that “there is no better way of volunteering,” than by Fostering a child.
Another Carer praised the close knit network Westcare’s Foster Care Program has created, saying, “these people are our family.”
They further emphasised difference seen in young people who have come into care.
“You wouldn’t recognise them as the same children who came in 5 and a half years ago.”
Meg & Michael, Foster Carers at Westcare for 6 years
The day was completed with a visit to a Residential Unit in St Albans where the visitors were given a tour of the unit.
Main Road Residentail Care Manager Lisa
Established in 2014, the facility is Westcare’s latest Therapeutic Unit. Salvation Army representatives were shown how the program operates and the positive effect this work has on a young person’s development, especially for young people who have experienced significant trauma in their childhood.