In the middle of taking Kevin’s photo, I step backwards and trip over a dog bowl filled with water. I say “Jesus!” Kevin laughs and says, “See, you’re on the right track already.”

Kevin is in the Salvos. He does what he says is called “their hotel ministry”. “All the hotels on a Friday night round here, preaching the Gospel. I do prison work too. And Kariong over here, the youth detention centre.”

He nods and points like these places are right in front of us. Kevin gets around. He found out about the Addi Road Food Pantry Marrickville at his water aerobics class. “A lady there volunteers here. She told me all about it. This is my first time here. I heard what she said and thought I must come. And I am sure glad I did!”

Why is that? “Well I worked in finance before the Salvos. I’m a pensioner now. And this is fantastic. I spent $13 and I have fruit and vegetables, meat, breakfast, and I have some cans for lunch. And milk! I wasn’t expecting that, I really wasn’t.”

Kevin says getting things at that price from Addi Road Food Pantry Marrickvile “is a big help. I bump into a lot of people in my travels, so I will be recommending here to them.” He seems to know a few people already. A fellow around his age called Bill arrives and says hi to Kevin warmly. A young woman called Cathy stays by his side. Kevin is very friendly in return. “If you take my photo can I keep my hat on. If I don’t have my hat on people won’t recognise me.” He does take off his face mask. “It fogs my glasses,” he explains.

“I’m sure here becomes a little community for people when they start coming back and they get to know each other. And now, with the virus and more people out of work, this is a really valuable resource.”

Kevin reckons “things will get worse. Even without the virus, the recession was coming,” he says forcefully. “They can’t hide it with Jobwhatever they are offering and things like. JobKeeper and what they call it. More people are struggling. It’s been coming for a long time. I knew it.”

He sees the problems people are having manifesting in things like drugs and drink. “You do drink or drunks for the buzz, or to numb yourself. It’s what people turn to. They try to find a way to switch off from things. But it’s not the way to go.”

After leaving the world of finance, Kevin says he got involved with working for the Salvos “because they weren’t all talk. I really liked that. They hopped in boots and all to help people. They were fair dinkum.”

He feels the same about Addi Road Food Pantry Marrickville. “It’s fair dinkum too.” Asked what he plans on having for dinner, though, and the normally chatty Kevin goes all shy. “Well, I’m married. So whatever I get given on my table I will appreciate. But it’s good to be bringing food home. And I will have one of those cans I got for my lunch tomorrow, like I said. I’ll be back.”

– Mark Mordue


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