Every time I opened my Facebook last week, I saw another friend ‘marked safe’ after another tragedy. Shootings, terrorism and natural disasters seem to be escalating. And it’s easy to be swallowed by the ‘what ifs.’ I often joke about living in a world filled with rainbows, unicorns and glitter, but the truth is, the shine of the fantasy-world is chipped away with each tragedy and injustice around the world and every unkindness from one human to another.
Thankfully, there are so many good-hearted people in this world, seeking to add a little more light to the communities where they live. I’ve been lucky to experience some of these in Melbourne.
Melbourne businesses and cafés that give a fork
Looking for coffee with conviction? Look no further than ACspresSO! For more than 30 years, the Australian Community Support Organisation has been working with former prisoners to create another chance. In 2015, they furthered their mission by opening ACspresSO, a cafe to change the lives of ex-inmates. Your flat white can help “an ex-offender to break the cycle of crime and divert others from a life of crime.”
In addition to providing training to ex-inmates, they also provide more than 5,000 food parcels every year to those who need it most.
The GAP Cafe
Want to enjoy a cappuccino and a cuddle of the four-legged variety? The team at The GAP (Greyhound Adoption Program) Cafe can make it happen for you!
These pups have been rescued from a life of racing and are available to be adopted by a loving family. Located just across from Flagstaff Gardens, the greyhounds are making the transition from country dog to metropolitan pup.
The Greyhound Adoption Program’s website shares a few little-known facts about this amazing breed of dogs:
- Greyhounds require little grooming.
- Shhh! This is a quiet breed and you’ll rarely hear them bark.
- Sloths have some competition! These dogs sleep for around 20 hours a day.
- Most greyhounds only require a 15-minute walk each day.
- That being said, greyhounds can make great jogging companions (but will require some training to increase their endurance).
- They are cooperative, adaptable, placid and affectionate.
- Small home? No problem! Greyhounds are suited to living in many types of households including apartments and properties with small yards.
- If adopted through Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program and are wearing their special Green GAP Collar, they are not required to wear a muzzle in public.
Meeting the greyhounds
When I visited, I got acquainted with Oreo, Claire and Sweetie, greyhounds who have been adopted out through GAP. It was fun meeting the dogs and watching their owners get acquainted as members of an exclusive greyhound parents’ club.
Oreo’s parents were great racing dogs who won big money in their day. Unfortunately, Oreo is a bit of a klutz (according to her parents) and only won $700 throughout his whole racing career.
Claire is an older dog, who was adopted out to a family after her racing career. After six years with her family, they gave her up for adoption when they had children. Her new parents were happy to adopt an older pup, and Claire couldn’t be happier.
Sweetie is a cutie with a bundle of energy! She loved getting cuddles and is happiest with a new squeaky toy (don’t even think about throwing a non-squeaky toy, though— she won’t bring it back).
Go grab a cup of coffee and get acquainted with these gorgeous retired racing hounds.
Good 2 Go
How often do we walk past a person experiencing homelessness, avert our eyes, mumble an apology and continue on our way? The team at Youth Project chose to step in with disadvantaged and homeless young people and give them an opportunity to change their path.
Good 2 Go offers youth a chance to be trained in hospitality and customer service, giving them a chance to practice their skills before entering the job market. Located in the picturesque Hosier Lane, home to some of the best street art in Melbourne, grab a shot or two of espresso before getting the perfect Instagram shot.
Kinfolk gives a fork, and they want you to, too. Since opening in 2010, they’ve given more than $175,000 to their charity partners. When you order from their breakfast, lunch or tea menus, you’re given a coffee bean, which is placed in glass jars to vote for your favorite charity. Perhaps you’ll choose for your money to advocate for dignity and health services for asylum seekers. Or maybe you’d rather your money go to a project that aids those experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental illness or isolation. Whatever you choose, know that you’re making a difference.
This cafe, run by volunteers, aims to address social inclusion through awesome coffee and seasonal food.
Every day, Sacred Heart Mission in Saint Kilda feeds 400 people. That’s almost 150,000 meals served to the homeless population of Melbourne every year. At $4 per meal, Sacred Heart relies on donations and fundraisers to fund the $584,000 needed to feed the disadvantaged.
This May, they’ve teamed up with restaurants across the city who have pledged to help Sacred Heart in their mission to raise funds and feed people. During the month of May, visit one of the Dine with Heart participating restaurants to do good just by eating good food.
Here are some of the restaurants participating in Dine With Heart Month:
- Bella Cosi | Port Melbourne
- Derby Thai | St Kilda
- Dr Jekyll | St Kilda
- Fitzrovia | St Kilda Fork & Fingers | Ascot Vale
- Frankie’s Top Shop | St Kilda West
- Grill’d | Windsor
- Icon Coffee Shop | St Kilda
- Lord Newry Hotel | Fitzroy North
- Radio Mexico | St Kilda
- St Ali | South Melbourne
- St Kilda Burger Bar | St Kilda East
- Uncle | St Kilda
- Union Club Hotel | Fitzroy
- West Beach Bathers Pavilion | St Kilda West
To learn more about Sacred Heart Mission and the events happening during May, check out their website.
The Soup place
Now that Autumn is in full swing, there’s really nothing more soul-warming that a steaming bowl of soup. For those of us with nice warm homes, a hot meal is something we often take for granted. But as the weather gets colder, there are more than 23,000 Victorians experiencing homelessness who depend on the kindness of others for a hot meal.
Enter The Soup Place. Tucked in Centre Place, one of Melbourne’s iconic laneways, is a soup shop that’s been brightening the days and filling the bellies of people who are down on their luck. In a world where we often become absorbed with our own lives, the brightly colored post-it notes of the shops beckon passerby to stop for a moment. And if you do stop, you’ll notice that there’s something special about this shop.
Large black kettles are filled with delicious-smelling soup. Buy a bowl for yourself, and you can pay it forward for just $3.50 for someone who is less fortunate. You’ll be given the opportunity to write a note to the man or woman who will receive the bowl of soup, or opt instead for a sandwich. To date, more than 6,000 people have received a meal that’s been paid forward. It’s a simple gesture, but sometimes it’s the simple gestures that make the biggest difference in another person’s life.
When I visited, I learned that more than 30 people in need come to The Soup Place every day to get a bowl of soup or sandwich (that number goes up when it’s cold). These small gestures don’t go unnoticed. In speaking with one of The Soup Place team members, he shared a special encounter when a former soup recipient returns to share good news of new employment and to pay forward a meal for someone else.
Thank you to all the businesses who are giving time and profits to help make this world a happier place.