Community gathers to celebrate anniversary
THE founders of the Lunch With Friends service were joined by about 80 guests and supporters in Coolangatta’s Goodwin Park today as they celebrated the 10th anniversary of the aid program.
The service is today a community institution but when Dennis Pommer and Bill Luvring started out they had no idea that a decade later they would still be providing free meals for some of the community’s most needy.
The service began almost accidentally when Mr Pommer and Mr Luvring shared a simple meal with a group of people living in the park at Jack Evans Boat Harbour.
“That first group we met was a group of six,” Mr Luvring said.
“They then told us there was another group over in this park. There were eight people here and we shared a meal with them and they asked us if we would come back the following week and do the same thing again and this is the result.”
Since then the free service has grown in popularity and scope, providing free meals as well as access to a range of community services for about 50 people each Tuesday.
“Having run into the first group of six people there was no way we couldn’t do anything, and this is the result,” Mr Luvring said.
“We had 14 on the first day and I’ve been here on days when we’ve had over 100 people but mostly we’ve got 50 to 60.
“Not all of these people are homeless. There are people here who are one payment away from being out on the street.”
Lunch With Friends is a volunteer-run organisation with St Joseph’s Parish Tweed Heads among their major supporters.
Tweed Heads Bowls Club also lends support, providing the service with 200 meals a month while the South Tweed Bowls Club provides 100 meals a month.
Lunch With Friends was operating each Tuesday and Thursday but earlier this year a decline in volunteer numbers meant the service was cut back to just one day a week.
Mr Luvring said it was hoped that they could reintroduce a second day.
“We’re hoping to get Thursday up again, we just need to get some more volunteers,” Mr Luvring said.
Lunch With Friends is staged in Goodwin Park, Coolangatta each Tuesday at noon.
Anyone interested in volunteering can phone St Joseph’s Parish Tweed Heads on 55367522.