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Our six month milestone - Murray River Tea Rooms

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

It’s been six months since the Murray River Tea Rooms social enterprise opened its doors, so a perfect time for reflection.

To date the initiative has been a wonderful success with every indication this will continue. Like any start-up there's been many hours required and I've witnessed significant discretionary effort, high engagement and widespread enthusiasm from staff and volunteers.

So what have been some of the outcomes?

Last week I was meeting with a Board member at the Tea Rooms and one of the client volunteers came and sat next to us. Although she doesn’t speak a lot, she made her request to join the conversation known. She was very comfortable to be present with us while she had her cuppa. You would describe this young lady as quiet and reserved and to witness this increase in confidence was fantastic. Her achievements are highlighted in Community Living & Respite Services recent Annual Report and when I congratulated her on that, I got the thumbs up!

Last month another one of the client volunteers launched, at the Tea Rooms, a novel she has written the assistance of Siri. This was a private function hosted by her family and it was such a joyful occasion. Bella Claire, (a pen name), is keen to encourage others, that despite the challenges of complex medical needs and disability, it's important to reach for the stars. Bella's book sales are going well and I’m guessing she is already planning a sequel.

Bella is thoroughly enjoying her involvement with the Tea Rooms and has also developed greater self confidence. I was thrilled to see her teaching one of our older community volunteers how to operate the EFTPOS machine.

The support of sponsors has been heart warming and has ranged from local home based businesses to large corporate organisations donating supplies. Receiving this start up support is very important. Our staff employment costs (training and supporting our clients), are a large expense so any savings through the donation of products and supplies makes a real difference. However it is the community ownership that results from this support that is making the Murray River Tea Rooms a talking point. The Tea Rooms have become a community initiative - with so many people seeing the social impact and wanting it to succeed. We are very grateful that all sectors of the community are assisting where they can.

My favourite story is the recent contact from a new restaurant in Moama - Sen on Madison. Business owners, Trieu, Julie and their team, offered to donate Vietnamese cuisine on a regular basis. This is fantastic as we currently have a limited lunch time menu. Chicken rice paper rolls provide a nice alternative to a ham and cheese toastie, particularly with summer approaching.

Julie explained that the Sen on Madison team were keen to help as they are beneficiaries of the Vietnamese Social enterprise, KOTO. Coming from a background of disadvantage Julie and Trieu explained it is now their turn to give back.

The first six months have flown by. The team at the Tea Rooms are about to experience the Echuca Moama tourist season, which will be another learning curve. I look forward to providing another update soon.

Suzanna Barry

CEO

Pictured L:R Mikayla Armstron, Trieu Le (Sen on Madison) & CLRS Board member Andrew Cowin

 

 
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