Helping the homeless gives Jada purpose
FOR Gympie woman Jada Burns, it's a case of helping others in order to help herself.
The former personal trainer and kindergarten teacher found herself stuck in a dark place after physical and mental health battles brought life as she knew it to a grinding halt.
Needing somewhere to turn, Mrs Burns was able to find the outlet she badly needed through lending a hand to local homeless populations, providing hot meals sourced from places like Panini's cafe every week with husband Lindsey and other members of the Victory Church community.
Mrs Burns said her volunteer work at places such as Six Mile camp grounds had been a "God send” during turbulent times.
"It's been fantastic for me,” she said.
"I left work because of an injury and my pain condition, and I've spent a lot of time in hospitals and mental health units, so it's given me a lot of focus.
"The more time you spend with these people, you see how real it is.
"A few have animals, and people don't understand that that animal is keeping them alive.
"We've got two dogs, and they're my companions when the kids are at school and Lindsey is at work.
"This is where suicide comes in, and that hit me really hard, because since I got complex regional pain syndrome it seems like the easy way out.
"If it wasn't for me doing this, I don't know if I'd be here now.”
Mrs Burns, who takes "really strong” medication to combat her body feeling "like it's got acid poured on it 24 hours a day”, said she first became involved in the initiative out of her love for helping people.
"We did it a few years ago in Gympie but stopped because I was working two jobs and Lindsey was working, and picking it back up again has been great.
"I've always wanted to help people, I used to run a music program for kids for seven years.
"I find more benefit for me than for them, they're all such nice people.”
Mrs Burns said she wanted to find more long-term solutions for homeless people, who face constant stigma in the public eye.
"There's so much more involved with these people.
"There's one guy who's homeless because his wife died in their house and he just doesn't want to go back, so he lives in his camper van and travels.
"I got a call at seven in the morning last week saying a lady who'd just been assaulted had come down.
"There's a couple who just want to isolate themselves to stay off drugs.
"I don't want it to be just about feeding them, I want to be finding solutions. Hopefully people will read this and get ideas.
"I had a lady who lives at Noosaville come and talk to me at church a few months ago, and she said she had 40 acres.
"The only problem is that her property was in the middle of nowhere, it has to be close to town.
"That's just one lady making an offer, so people are thinking about it.”
Phone Victory Church Gympie on 5482 8206 or Community Action Gympie on 5482 8959 if you want to get involved in helping local homeless populations.
If you need help, phone Lifeline on 131114.