The Jeremiah Project: From Homelessness to a Future of Hope

By: Helping Hands

The Jeremiah Project is an inspiring organisation in Western Sydney that exists to bring hope and a future to people experiencing homelessness. 

Founded by Jacky Turano and supported by a team of over 110 volunteers, the heartbeat of The Jeremiah Project is to ensure that everyone knows they have a purpose and are loved.

Helping Hands spent an afternoon with Jacky and the Jeremiah team at the Hawkesbury Community Kitchen in Windsor, NSW to see how this charity is working with local businesses and supporters, and punching well above its weight.

Watch the full Jeremiah Project documentary produced by Helping Hands:

“Jeremiah was something that was put on my heart in what was really a hard season for me,” said Jacky.  “We faced grief upon grief upon grief. It was in that dark season that we almost lost everything. To taste it, to go through that tough season, (it makes) you want to be there for other people.”

Jacky left two successful businesses and committed herself to The Jeremiah Project. Housing affordability and the rising costs of living have impacted the people with whom Jacky and the team interact on a daily basis, and the need continues to grow.

Tom is a regular at Hawkesbury Community Kitchen.  “I get towels, shoes, socks, a shower and a shave.  If you need something, they’ve got it for you,” he says.

“I’ve got no family or friends. If you’re fifty years old and down on your luck, you’ve got to try to do what you can. With them (The Jeremiah Project) I’ve got life, I’ve got a chance in life.”

Homelessness Doesn’t Discriminate

Homelessness doesn’t discriminate, says Jacky, while stocking the pantry shelves with non-perishable foods. Pointing out that school lunchbox snacks are among the most requested items, she challenges us to abandon any preconceived ideas about the causes and impact of homelessness.

“We’ve had families come through that have six kids, eight kids. They can’t buy lunch like we would buy lunch. Any types of snacks will help them get through the day.”  Jacky is moved to tears. “For someone who can’t afford food and is struggling, this is massive for them.”

The Jeremiah Project is more than a service providing food to people who are homeless. Jacky acknowledges that asking for help can be a terrifying step. Whenever she can, she seeks to gain trust and to meet people where they’re at. She says she wants people to come in with their needs, and to leave with love.

Team Spirit

Jacky is grateful that others in the her local area, the Hawkesbury region in north western Sydney, have caught her vision to make the world a better place through the work of The Jeremiah Project. Individuals, groups and businesses all help Jacky to keep the project going.

Thanks to crates of fresh produce and long-life food items donated by the local Aldi store in Richmond, Jacky and her team provide healthy meals for up to 25 people a day, and pack emergency hampers as requested.

The soup kitchen also receives weekly donations of gourmet pies and sausage rolls from South Windsor Pie Stop, and Jacky regularly collects boxes of chocolates donated from Lindt Chocolates. The Richmond Club is also a regular financial supporter of Hawkesbury Community Kitchen, and Jacky says that it all helps to supplement the donated goods.

“Helping put food on the table, it’s amazing. It’s amazing when the community gets together,” Jacky says, emphasising that although providing for basic needs is a primary initiative of the Project, she never wants it to be only about the food.

“It’s always about the soul and checking in on them (the people who visit the project). I want to know where they’re at, what they’re doing. When you hear that they’re getting a house, or they’re getting back on their feet, it does amazing things.”

In addition to the soup kitchen, The Jeremiah Project runs community outreach and connection programs, school programs, a winter sleep out and a 29 km fun run throughout Western Sydney.

See THE JEREMIAH PROJECT story and the full catalogue of Helping Hands documentaries at Catch up on full episodes of Helping Hands on 9NOW.  

Article supplied with thanks to Helping Hands.

Feature image: Supplied, Helping Hands

About the Author: Helping Hands is an Australian produced TV program that airs on 9GEM, Channel 9 and 9NOW, and showcases people and organisations who make the world a better place.