Since 2012, the Cranbourne Regional Uniting Church Food Truck has been serving free food to homeless and disadvantaged people in the local area.
A former Country Fire Authority (CFA) truck set up to feed firefighters, it was converted by the Cranbourne congregation into a food truck that now operates four nights a week.
The food truck recently partnered with Orange Sky Laundry, a free mobile laundry service. On Friday nights, the Orange Sky Laundry van parks next to the food truck so visitors can wash their clothes while they share a meal with each other.
The food truck receives little funding from the government and is dependent on the hard work of approximately 60 volunteers to keep it operational.
Two of these volunteers –Sharon Start and Rev Wendy Snook from Cranbourne Regional Uniting Church – are founding members of Journey Bound, a folk/gospel band that raises money to support the food truck.
Ms Start said the idea for Journey Bound arose during a Christmas carols session at the food truck, where she and Ms Snook entertained visitors with songs.
“It evolved from the very first Christmas party at the food truck about four-and-a-half years ago, when Wendy and I decided that a few extra instruments and voices might be a good idea,” Ms Start said.
“Wendy and I, along with Jose Garcia from the Cranbourne Presbyterian Church and Colin Smith from Cranbourne Salvation Army decided that we would form a band. It was a wonderful journey we were about to embark on, therefore Jose suggested the name Journey Bound!”
The Cranbourne Regional UC began hosting regular music nights once a month. These events were called ‘FUN’ – Folk Uniting Nights. Ms Snook said FUN is designed to be inclusive and accessible to people of all cultural and musical backgrounds.
“We deliberately encouraged at least one act to not be sung or spoken in English, or its style come from another cultural background, because Cranbourne has many migrants and refugees,” Ms Snook said.
“Often they come with few material possessions. But they have plenty of cultural wealth, with their songs, dances and stories to share. Through sharing our talents, we could raise money to help pay to run the food truck.”
However, the band underwent a period of change last year as Mr Smith unexpectedly passed away and Mr Garcia left to pursue a full-time music career.
This year, Journey Bound reformed with new members Maurie Richardson, Mark Lindsay and John Wilson joining the band. The new-look Journey Bound debuted at the FUN event on 21 May.
“We all brought our diverse musical history and tastes to the band. We were, and still are, a group of equals, rather than a star with a backing group,” Ms Snook said.
Journey Bound will feature in the upcoming Casey Winter Arts Festival through their FUN nights in June, July and August.
The first of these events takes place on 18 June at 7pm at the Cranbourne Regional Uniting Church. Journey Bound will be the supporting act for singer and radio personality Greg Champion. There will also be special guests and workshops for the FUN nights in July and August.
In addition to raising money for a worthwhile cause, the band offers an important support network for its members. Ms Start said they would offer pastoral care for one another during difficult times.
“Like most people, we have had our fair share. Prayer time at the conclusion of each rehearsal is an essential component of support for each other,” she said.
Ms Snook, who successfully battled bladder cancer, said the band members all experienced adversity throughout the past three years. She believes her involvement with Journey Bound played a major part in her recovery.
“There were times when I couldn’t sing, because of the anaesthetic treatment during surgery, and I could hardly talk, which is extremely depressing for a Minister of the Word!
“But being still able to play my autoharp, including Australian, Celtic and American melodies, and to feel the love and support of the band and its music, and feeling the effect of everyone’s prayers really made a difference for me. I am sure God used Journey Bound and its music to help me recover.”
The call to serve the disadvantaged members of the community reflects Cranbourne Regional’s mission to “provide Christ’s living bread in physical and spiritual ways to the Cranbourne region”. For Ms Snook, volunteering at the food truck is a natural extension of God’s work in Cranbourne.
“I think the church is called to be a movement of people, not an institution,” she said.
“And when we meet the deep needs of our local communities, then non-Christian people flock to become our partners, because together we make a difference to other peoples’ lives.”
Cranbourne Regional Uniting Church is located on 41 Lesdon Avenue. Entrance to FUN events is $7 for adults (children free) and includes supper. Money raised will support the food truck.
Visit http://www.cranbournefolkuniting.org/ for more information.