Volunteers bulletin

Volunteer Update: Helen’s Pot Luck

As in every home, the kitchen is the meeting place at Mary’s House. It’s expansive and there is plenty of window light. The House has been generously equipped with a fine stove and cook top, a microwave, dishwashers and ample fridge space.

These are appreciated. But it is the bowls of fruit and other supplies on benchtops and the natural camaraderie of a kitchen that makes it special. Many of the House residents are fine cooks and, at times, we have enjoyed the aromas of fresh muffins, spicy Asian curries and Mediterranean vegetable dishes.

So, it was a surprise to learn that one such lady in the house did not have any culinary experience. On my afternoon shifts at the House, I would see her return after 3pm and immediately tuck into hot takeaway food. I thought this was simply hunger but as we chatted she told me she’d never learned to cook. We agreed it was time she made a start. She was keen and, after checking the pantry, I sent her off to the nearest supermarket for fresh mince steak and dried Italian herbs.

We set to cooking as soon as she returned. She watched with interest, as I chopped an onion. We put a large pan on the cooktop; oil was added; the onion and then, the mince. We had bought such a large quantity of meat that browning it without spilling any was a delicate operation. We took turns at it. With the meat browned, we added canned tomato and the Italian herbs.

While these were cooking, I had her put on a big pot of water. When it boiled, she added spaghetti and we watched carefully for it to become ‘al dente’. By then the meat was ready. And yes, you’ve guessed it. We made the Aussie version of Ragu Bolognese or, as we used to call it at my place, Spag Bol.


It’s moments like these that we realise Mary’s House is so much more than just ‘crisis accommodation’. It gives a glimpse into the support these women are provided and the different ways in which we help to give their independence back, some days this can be simply teaching new skills.

Mummies Paying it Forward

Hello Volunteers

I thought you might be interested in an interview regarding Mummies Paying it Forward which aired on SBS on Saturday night (11/5/2019). Mummies have been great supporters of Mary’s House since inception and you can see Liz Mackinlay, our Chair, featured in this  news report



Volunteer Newsletter December 2018

Dear Volunteers

This is the final newsletter for 2018. I thought it timely to recap on the year:

  • This year we have had 16 women (including 3 grandmothers) and their children in the house. All of these families have gone on to start new, safe lives. Some we have helped resettle, others have found their own way forward
  • We have developed stronger partnerships with local allied services – the police, WDVCAS, DV Line, Link-to-Home, FACS and FACS Housing, NSW Health, pro-bono specialist  legal services, allied community service organisations, lower north shore domestic violence network and many local community organisations
  • We continue to receive amazing support from our community – through fundraisers, donations in kind and grants. Without this support we could not operate to help our families
  • We have over 40 active volunteers. You are the lifeblood of Mary’s House – helping us to operate at all levels
  • The board of NSWBA have confirmed our direction for the next year: continuing to provide refuge accommodation; increasing post refuge support and continuing to work collaboratively with the community

I know there are also personal stories that many of you share – the changes we see in women and their children from the day they enter the refuge to the day they leave; the confidence they achieve in this time; the wonderful comments they sometimes make: “being in Mary’s House is like being in the womb”; “I still think with great love of the support I received when I was in Mary’s House”; “I would not have been able to start afresh without the support of Mary’s House” and so on.

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your contribution to Mary’s House. It doesn’t matter how big or small that contribution is – every little bit helps. We are very proud to be offering one solution to the epidemic that is domestic violence and you are very much a part of that.

I wish you all a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Kind regards


Maggy Farago
Executive Officer
Mary’s House

Mary’s House Volunteers Bulletin

I’m proud to say our community has shown they are unarguably completely and loudly supportive of Mary’s House. What a win for the Volunteers Team! We have received about 60 completed volunteer’s application forms.

Already we have training programs in place with Lifeline and very shortly there will be signup rostering available so that volunteers can nominate on-line the date and time they wish to volunteer for a particular task.

We strongly believe that the success of Mary’s House will be largely dependent on the strength of our volunteer workforce. Based on support we’ve received, we have every reason to believe our strategy will deliver precisely what it needs to; to ensure the safety and well-being of every resident of Mary’s House no matter their circumstance.

We have articulated various volunteer roles and have been astounded by the response from all walks of life including professionals, retirees, full time workers who somehow will make time, school students and many who have in some shape or form been exposed to domestic violence themselves and wish to lend hope and inspiration to those currently dealing with the complicated reality.

We very much look forward to delivering our next update which will give you an idea of how the first weeks unfolded.

Janice Gibson
Volunteer Coordinator

Mary’s House Volunteers Bulletin

Significant developments with North Sydney council this week and the much needed renovation is expected to commence in March. What a breakthrough!!!!

February, 2016


We have successfully secured the funds required for the renovation and on this happy note, another thanks goes to all of you who have contributed so far. The operating costs however, to the tune of approximately $200,000 for the first year, remain outstanding. Our plans to help us unearth this amount include continuing to apply for community grants and local funding but also to hold small private lunches and dinners for individuals who may pitch in with significant donations. Such occasions involve tours of the house and an up to date reporting on the current progress of Marys House, together with a QandA on all things related e.g. the current state of services and resources for Domestic and Family Violence. We hope to engage with like minded people who have practical or financial capacity and wish to contribute. The lunches commence this week and the dinners will commence in April. If you have ideas on how YOU can contribute to fundraising please let us know!


Currently we are searching for these 3 special groups.

a) Event Managers and worker bees for 3 fundraising dinners to be held in April. Tasks will involve setting up the designated venue for a private dinner party of up to 25 people and to be willing to get involved with all areas of set up and catering, even cooking, to help us get the outstanding revenues required to open the doors. Any worker bees or people with catering experience out there?

b) Longer Term Fund Raising Coordinator/s who will take responsibility for follow up of offers to donate to Mary’s House. For example if some good person contacts us to say I’m planning to sell some furniture and Id like to donate the proceeds to Mary’s House, or I’m doing a fundraiser at school and we’d like to raise money for Mary’s House, we need a dedicated person/s to work with these offers and ensure smooth operations.

c) Networkers within North Sydney. We are currently seeking connected people who can introduce our Steering Committee to corporations in the local area, to propose that we work with them to raise awareness of Mary’s House and naturally, to assist with our fund raising requirements.

Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Please reply to either:
or Liz Mackinlay from our Steering Committee

Kind Regards,
Janice Gibson
Mary’s House Volunteers, Secretary