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Ryan Clift is a community chaplain in Blaxland as well as the Mission Planter at Blaxland Church of Christ.
A few months ago, their little church met at Dan’s Coffee Haus in Blaxland, and he asked the question “what would it look like to bring life in our community?” The group then went for a walk around the neighbourhood.
It was 5pm on a Sunday, at the beginning of winter. So, naturally, their response after walking around for a while was, “IT’S COLD!” But as the group talked, they realised there was more to this ‘cold’ feeling than the weather. They felt there was something missing in their little community, especially in winter. There were very few places to go and meet and be a part of the community, and definitely none that were free.
It wasn’t until the next day that Ryan was chatting with the coffee shop owner, Dan, that Dan contributed his idea. He said, “What if people could come and get some soup and have something warm in their bellies and the opportunity to connect? Would that be a good thing?”
From this, the simple plan was formed to serve soup, invite the community, and have one rule – everyone is welcome!
As they shared the idea, people in the community decided to show their support. The local IGA donated bread. The Neighbourhood Centre and Blue Mountains Police shared the invite on Facebook community pages. And local shop owners helped to spread the word too.
They ran 4 successive soup nights. At the last night, a 6-year old stood up and made a speech on her own accord. She thanked Dan, Anna and Ryan for helping her make new friends and for the soup. She reflected her happiness to the group gathered. A 6-year old had the adults in tears because they realised they were finally becoming the community they longed to be.
The ‘Blaxland Village’ Facebook page made a post after the last gathering, “It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are in life, everyone struggles. The importance of our Blaxland community is that we have been there for each other and continue to be there for each other. Our local business community is shining proud and we can’t wait to see the next steps we have in store (watch this space). It takes a village to raise a family and over these past 4 weeks we have achieved it – a huge thanks to Dan, Anna and Ryan.”
This is just the beginning of a re-imagining of the community in Blaxland. They didn’t set out to start a soup kitchen. Their objective was to enjoy deeper community with their neighbours, and sharing soup in Winter was just one of those simple ways. The community is already talking about what’s next and planning other ways to continue to build this sense of connection and belonging.
If you’d like to keep up to date with what’s happening in Blaxland, you can follow their Facebook page.
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