Spreading the Good Stuff for community…

 There is little doubt Echuca Moama is a giving community and in our mission to shine a light on the good news through our weekly Spreading the Good Stuff  blog we come across examples of this generosity everywhere.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be featuring local initiatives and volunteers changing lives for the good in our riverside community.

First cab off the rank this week is the newly established Murray River Tea Rooms – a social enterprise of disability support agency Community Living and Respite Services (CLRS).

Opening its doors only six weeks ago, in the former Moama Newsagency building on Meninya Street, Murray River Tea Rooms is a unique business venture aimed at supporting CLRS clients to obtain life-long skills, which can be successfully transferred to employment.

This 20-seat cafe offers hot drinks and cakes in an ‘Op Shop’ setting – selling wares from the CLRS Recyclability Centre – with revenue from sales and goods sold reinvested to ensure ongoing business sustainability and opportunities for people with disability.

Assisted by support staff: Glenn, Kellie and Sandra, up to seven CLRS clients serve barista style coffee, high quality teas and scrumptious cakes and scones five days a week and have been blessed with a steady stream of customers since day one.

It has become a hot spot for friends of all ages to meet for coffee and small corporate groups gathering to plan the week ahead (FREE Wi-Fi is available), and all have contributed to 100-120 customers per day visiting to show their support for Murray River Tea Rooms and the Recyclability program.

Established two years ago, Recyclability is a CLRS community-recycling program, coordinated by people of all abilities, involving regular kerbside collection of recyclable goods sold via its Percy Street site and now at the tearooms.

A team of 30 volunteers and clients deliver 800 flyers per week to local households, creating a steady stream of recycled goods and a sustainable business model with the added benefit of reusing so much of the ‘stuff’ we don’t need anymore – now there’s a win, win!

Murray River Tea Rooms was built around the same sustainable model, drawing support from the corporate community and as program manager Sandra explains, “it fosters a sense of community and is a great example that not all donations have to be monetary”.

“Local companies have supplied a lot of our initial set-up equipment, daily bread and milk requirements and other perishable products… it’s a real win, win,” said Sandra.

Sandra explained there are so many ways to support this enterprise in the form of donations and also in time as a volunteer sorting treasures in the op shop or, if you have barista skills, you could find yourself behind the coffee machine whipping up a latte or cappuccino.

Up to 10 dozen scones are donated and delivered fresh each week and local catering businesses regularly provide homemade cakes for sale, contributing to a community-driven sustainable business model with huge potential for growth.

Importantly though, the social skills and community interaction CLRS clients have experienced has been life changing and for Mikayla (pictured middle) her work experience has opened up a whole new world, where she has gained both skills and confidence.

“The outcomes for the clients have been amazing and have well and truly exceeded our expectations,” explained CLRS CEO Suzanna Barry.

Suzanna suggested with continued support from the community, particularly in the form of volunteering, the opening hours (Mon-Fri 8am-4pm and Sat 8am-1pm) could be extended on weekends and for pre-arranged functions.

So if you’re looking for a quality scone and one of the best coffees on the Moama side of Murray, pop into Murray River Tea Rooms and help support a social enterprise doing great things to improve the lives of those with disability in Echuca Moama and spread the word… it’s good stuff!

Christy xo


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