19 December 2016
A Star News Group Publication
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In tight corner By Casey Neill Cornerstone has helped countless homeless and desperate people in Dandenong and now finds itself without a home. The Rado family owns the converted church at Mason and Walker streets and has advised the charity that its home has been put up for sale. Cornerstone has until April next year to find an alternative. The Journal first learnt of the situation on 25 November but met a plea from new Cornerstone CEO Stephen Barrington to hold off on breaking the news until he’d personally delivered it to the Cornerstone family because it was likely to trigger anxiety in many service users. He did so on Wednesday 14 December. Mr Barrington said Rado family members had provided the site rent-free for 25 years and praised their generosity. “When our organisation was started, we hoped that we might be allowed to use the building for a year or two to help us get established,” he said. “Having something rent free for a long time has kept a lot of our costs down.” He said the Rado family’s support had allowed Cornerstone to grow from a hunch and a dream to a charity with many volunteers and partnership groups that had changed thousands of lives. Cornerstone Contact Centre was established in 1991 and is safe haven for disadvantaged people of all ages and backgrounds. It offers a drop-in facility and free meals for those suffering from family violence, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, poverty, mental illness and social isolation. It runs 20 programs from the centre on a
weekly, fortnightly and monthly basis and six days a week offers at least one meal. Cornerstone has about 50 dedicated volunteers who provide the meals and services that support 700 visits from locals every week. Cornerstone also provides food hampers and swags for the homeless. “We’re not finished yet!” Mr Barrington said. “The Cornerstone board, its staff and many volunteers are fully committed to continuing to play a vital role in the Dandenong community in the future. “We believe the challenge of finding a new home - and the funding and support we will need for it - will open up exciting opportunities to grow new partnerships. “We are now actively exploring all possibilities for an alternative venue from which to run our activities. “We want to continue to be a place for those who are doing things tough in our community to come together, share a meal and experience a place to belong. “As we strive to find a new home any help the community can provide will be greatly appreciated. “We’re looking at a range of options. Mr Barrington said Cornerstone needed a location with a working kitchen and space for the other groups that partnered with the charity. “We probably have around eight or nine groups who use this place,” he said. “Who knows, there may also be another family or business or person that is able to offer a gift of support like we’ve received for the past 25 years.” The news of the sale capped off a tough year for Cornerstone, which suddenly lost long-time co-ordinator Don Cameron to cancer in March.
This is the final edition of the Journal for 2016. The Journal staff would like to thank all our readers and advertisers for their support throughout the year. The first edition of the Journal in 2017 will be published on Monday 16 January. In the meantime keep on eye on the Journal Facebook page for stories over the new year period. Wishing everyone in Greater Dandenong a merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.
Cornerstone CEO Stephen Barrington ponders the charity’s future location. 163253 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS
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