October marks the traditional time of the year that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Australia (over 146,000 members) set aside time to work on community projects as one body. As part of this initiative, members of the church were encouraged to seek out opportunities to partner with and help worthy endeavours in the community. On Saturday, 29th October over 120 members from the Sydney Australia Mortdale Stake (Diocese) of the church partnered with Belmore Boys High School Principal, Ms. Hala Ramadan, head teacher Mr. Omar Chahrouk and other teachers who attended on the day. These teachers regularly give of their own time outside of school hours to improve the school’s facilities.
Through Canterbury Bulldogs first grade player, Will Hopoate, a member of Mortdale Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church group and school were introduced to each other. Bulldogs Community Manager Mr. Saree Boutros facilitated the meeting and came to support the project on the day. Preparation commenced and several projects requiring attention within the school were decided upon. Some materials were donated by retailers and sponsors along with a donation from the Church to purchase supplies.
Mortdale Stake’s group was made up of a cross-section of different members from children as young as two, a team of tradespeople through to members in their eighties. A large contingent of volunteer full-time missionaries from the Church in the area also participated. The group reconstructed sheds, repainted walls and awnings, constructed garden beds and performed other tasks to improve and beautify the environment of Belmore Boys High School.
Ms. Hala Ramadan said that she was overwhelmed by the support given to the School and their students, and was grateful to all those who disregarded cultural and religious barriers to give to kids who deserve a chance and a better school environment. She said “our boys come from all around the world covering all continents, but the minute they walk into Belmore, they are walking into their second home with their larger family”.
Stake President, Philip Barton expressed the strong feeling of family that was felt at the school. “We felt the powerful sense of community as we worked with the leaders in the school and were grateful to be invited in to be part of that for a time. We believe that the family is the most important unit of society and were happy to have our families help other people”.
The Stake presented Ms. Ramadan and Mr. Omar Chahrouk with community service awards recognising the time they give to the school outside of school hours in order to make it better for their students. The church and school both expressed their gratitude in a formal ceremony to conclude where school captain, Sam Van Der Walle, also a member of the Church was there to assist. Both groups look forward to continuing to partner and work together into the future.