Greta’s Donation Brewing Comfort for Women and Children Leaving Violence

At 8 years of age, Greta is proof that you are never too young to make a difference in people’s lives. An enthusiastic and energetic grade three student, she has already shown an innate sense of empathy and willingness to help those in need, most recently by donating a brand-new coffee machine to McAuley’s new refuge, set to open later this year.

The coffee machine came into Greta’s hands after winning the easter raffle at her primary school. But with the local café being only two minutes from her home, she realised that her family didn’t have much use for the machine and decided it would be better off being donated to someone in need.

“We don’t need a coffee machine! There a coffee shop right next to our house where we can get coffees and hot chocolates.”

This was when her mother, Lizzie, suggested they donate it to McAuley.

As a Senior Project Officer at MacKillop Family Services, Lizzie Callinan knew of McAuley after the joining together of two organisations in October last year. “I’ve loved learning more about the work of McAuley as the organisations came together. The refuge accommodation provided by McAuley seemed the perfect home for the coffee machine and aligned with Greta’s desire to donate it to help people who’ve been homeless.”

This is not the only time that Greta has shown a passion for social justice. Greta has a rare type of Down syndrome called mosaic Down syndrome and has been very involved with raising awareness within her school. Part of this is a book that she wrote and updates regularly about herself titled ‘Greta, a story about me and my something extra,’ which she was able to read to her school earlier this year.

“She has been so great at explaining her condition and educating the people at her school all about Mosaic Down Syndrome,” says Lizzie.

In fact, after accepting the coffee machine, Greta was invited up on stage for a second time that day when she and her brother drew the winner of a raffle raising money for Down Syndrome Victoria.

“Helping people makes me feel warm and cozy. It makes me want to help people more,” says Greta.

This is certainly not the last we will see of Greta who says she wants to be a people’s rights activist when she grows up. “I want to travel the world, go to all of the marches and meet really interesting people,” she says.

The coffee machine will find a new home at a new family violence refuge opening later this year. The custom-built facility will include six independent units with the capacity to house up to 21 women and their children at any time. The site, thoughtfully designed to promote rest and healing after violence, will include on-site case management and children’s support so that women and children leaving violence are supported to plan their next steps in a safe space.

Greta has left strict instructions for the coffee machine, noting that “only the women and kids can use it for their coffee and hot chocolates,” but says staff members are the exception to this rule so they can “keep helping women.”