Volunteering at the BBQ was not even questionable it was inevitable! I was looking forward to helping out with my wife and son coming along for the ride. My dear wife will be off to Northland Shopping Centre is a certainty. 

Approaching the BBQ area where I will spend the next couple of hours, I had that nervous feeling you get when meeting new people. As I parked the car I could see them already there, it was 920am on a Saturday morning. 

I waltzed up to them and was greeted with a very welcoming smile and congratulations on being successful on the role of Operations Manager. I relaxed immediately and introduced my family. Not long after this, my wife was off to buy some plants and my son followed her. 

On with the business of the day, I had a good look at the area around the BBQ, our advertising was at the side, a banner proudly displaying why we were making money this fine day. Inside the tent it looked very close quarters the fact I had never actually cooked on a BBQ before was daunting. Hope they don’t ask me to cook!

Project New Dawn (PND) was displayed and it was great that I researched them prior this assisted when the public decided to enquire. I start officially on Monday 19th; two days away, however already feel part of this exciting adventure. This is even more real as I am now meeting Board members and Valuable Volunteers. 

Mulling around I was happy to say good morning to people entering the business next to the BBQ. Saying hello and asking how they were. The next thing I was undercover getting a handover to cook sausages on the BBQ from a well-meaning Board Member. Oh well here I go!

Don't know how I was drafted so quickly into the Apron which was now tied in a knot no less, I found this out when I tried to get it off. I think they were planning in not letting me leave. During this time of settling in, a former Participant of the program came up and introduced himself. This is what PND are about. He has secured a job and housing from 18 months ago where life was homelessness, no job and not much future. He welcomed me to the program and I was really chuffed that he made the effort.

It was steady at first then BANG! So many people wanting a sausage and bread, I was afraid to look up as there was a queue. My little helper, a Board Member's daughter who I must say was fabulous and was there since set up. She kept me smiling and giving me encouragement as I just kept cooking sausage after sausage, not to forget the bags and bags of onions. 

We were happy when a Partner's Companies Volunteers arrived, I am sure I heard a Bugle in the background as the Cavalry arrived. They were young and eager to assist. This was not going to relieve my role or that of my sidekick unfortunately this would not come until we had cooked all 20kgs of sausages and the posse went out to get another 20kgs. It was that busy the queue went back inside the store. To think it was not even midday yet! 

My first impressions were that the team camaraderie was excellent, even though we had never met or worked together before. Somehow this worked and it worked really, really well. We all had the same goal, to make money for PND to continue to assist homeless people access stable housing, employment and be empowered to make decisions.


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