Bill Burgess is a familiar sight at West Footscray Neighbourhood House, joining our Soul House social inclusion program each Thursday, usually clutching a bag of his home grown lemons to share. ABC News recently featured him in an article about the proportion of people in Australia who know their neighbours by name. Bill more than knows the names of his neighbours – he deeply values community and is something of a street identity.
Staff member Fiona Eckley was also interviewed for the article, sharing about Bill’s long years volunteering for our toy library. Many of the classic wooden toys were either made or repaired by Bill. Now aged 91 Bill has only slowed a little. He still collects and cuts up cardboard, bringing it in for use in the childcare room.
The article goes on to discuss the importance of community connection; a value that Bill and West Footscray Neighbourhood House certainly have in common! Neighbourhood houses are an important part of local community life, particularly for people who need a little extra support to make those connections. Like many participants in our programs, Bill gives as much as he receives – a hallmark of genuine connection.