Visit to BANH Inc– Friday 24 May 2019

Lodge Devotion was one of many Lodges who applied and obtained the $5K grant offered to Lodges from the Freemasons Foundation Victoria. Since being founded in 2014 with the funds of the Board of Benevolence and Freemasons Public Foundation, the current Foundation has contributed “over $6.5m in supporting community organisations”. (Source, Freemasons Foundation Victoria Web site).

Lodge Devotion selected The Belgium Avenue Neighbourhood House (BANH) for support. BANH operates two sites, one at 9 Belgium Avenue Richmond, and another in the Ground floor 253 Hoodle Street Collingwood. These service local residents including those from the iconic 1960’s High Rise Public Housing Estates of Richmond and Collingwood. The Richmond site of BANH is beside the high rise and Collingwood within it; on the ground floor of one of the buildings.

Lodge Devotion added $1K of its own funds to bring the total support of BANH to $6,000. This money will be used to support local food programs, and a primary activity within that is offering nutritious and social lunches to local residents. During our visit to BANH, the manager Sue Kent (currently nominated for the City of Yarra Woman of the Year) showed us over the Richmond facilities and introduced us to the Friday sing-a-long group. In her nomination for Woman of the Year, Sue is described as “a dedicated and passionate community leader, with a can do approach that enables and inspires others to contribute, to feel included and to act together in the best interest of the Yarra community.” Sue won Woman of the Year in Yarra in 2013 and some ten years ago we had some discussions and supported her activities. In 2010 BANH had held its Christmas Party at the Collingwood Masonic Centre.

Our funding had made a difference before it even arrived. During our visit, Sue told us how a local wanted to offer cups of soup for sale, and knowing our money was not far away, Sue was able to use it to underwrite the activity. The enterprise broke even, but could not have proceeded without our support. Wouldn’t it be great if BANH was able to apply our funds many times over in this way ?