SPECIAL FEATURE - Rockingham twins named Community Citizens of the Year for service to the homeless
Elieen Giles and Patty Powell were last month awarded Community Citizens of the Year for Rockingham. Photo: Supplied.
By Josh Low
Twin sisters Eileen Giles and Patricia (Patty) Powell of Rockingham Parish were last month awarded the 2018 Community Citizens of the Year for Rockingham at the Australia Day ceremony.
Having begun both the Servants of United Love (SOUL) Soup Patrol in 2008 and S.O.U.L Care in 2009, the twins have devoted their lives to helping the homeless, and spoke to The eRecord about the work they do.
Eileen and Patty explained that they were part of an Advent program in which a group discussion raising the topic of a mobile soup kitchen being beneficial in the Rockingham area.
Eileen said she was then woken in the middle of the night in May a few months later with the words ‘It is time to start your street ministry’.
The rest, as they say, is history – with the twins contacting the city council for permission to use a bus through a benefactor which they converted into a mobile soup kitchen.
Ten years on and the SOUL Soup Patrol now has over 50 volunteers, with the mobile soup kitchen going out on the streets every Thursday and Sunday.
The twins added that the SOUL Soup Patrol and the two Houses of Hope under S.O.U.L Care receives a lot of support from Kolbe Catholic College, St John of God Retreat Centre as well as local businesses.
Answering the call to reach out to the poor and needy lies behind the twins’ inspiration in the work they do. Photo: Supplied.
Patty said the Houses of Hope take in pregnant and homeless women in need and aims to build a sense of community in the process.
“The women stay at the Houses of Hope while pregnant and then transition to the one-bedroom unit to gain a rental history,” she said.
“Last year, we formed a group called Village Women to mentor and teach the women different skills, including soap making, cheese making, sewing, cooking and knitting among other things.”
“Over the 10 years many women have come to S.O.U.L. Care and had their babies and moved on. They come to us for a blank slate and a chance to start over, and we link them to counselling or any other services that may be needed.”
She added that the inspiration behind the work they do lies in the Gospel message.
“Serving God and answering the call to reach out to the poor and needy was the inspiration behind the work.
“We are also very blessed to have support from Fathers Pier and Vijay and the community of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rockingham.
“Over the last few years we have learned about the founder of the Somascan order Saint Jerome Emiliani and the similarities between the charisms of the Somascan order and what we do.
Feeling grateful for the nomination of the award, Eileen and Patty said they had gone to the Australia Day ceremony without any expectation of to winning, and credit many of the volunteers.
“We thank God for His blessing and for all the volunteers that help us and feel the award is theirs as well and we hope to set up a legacy that can last long after we have gone,” they said.