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Shining A Light on HOMELESSNESS


Over 35,000 people in NSW are currently experiencing the deliberating nature of homelessness. Whilst rough-sleepers might be the stereotypical image of homelessness you picture, it ranges from couch-surfing to temporary accommodation.

Joel Devlin from Baulkham Hills is a longtime volunteer with the charity, Shining Light Foundation which was started in 2016 by Azita Abdollahian who owned a hairdressing business in Castle Hill ( Bebe’s Hair and Beauty).

She wanted to offer dignity back into the lives of the homeless population through offering haircuts and headed to Martin Place.

With a passion for social work, she has gone from hairdressing to graduating with a Bachelors in Psychology.

Shining Light Volunteers Me Dani And Joel Shining A Light On Homelessness
Joel (pictured right), melanie (pictured centre) and dani (pictured left of joel), with fellow volunteers.

As previous President of Norwest Sunrise Rotary Club and recipient of Women of the West Businesses Award in 2019, Azita thrives in uplifting others in her local community.

“Working closely with the homeless community has allowed me to ground myself and exercise gratitude,” she said.

“Also, I learn from them. If anyone is out there and helping as a volunteer, they are doing something good for their community and themselves. Volunteering has really helped me expand my views about life and see things differently than living day by day.”

The Shining Light Foundation operates most Mondays in Martin Place and offers a hot BBQ, packaged food as well as hygiene items to those in need. Occasionally they offer haircuts and clothing especially during the harsh winter months, but always a warm conversation.

I love volunteering for the Shining Light Foundation because
what we do is give people who are less fortunate hope.

Joel steps up most Mondays to lead the Martin Place collective. Joel’s advocacy for social justice is proven through the recent presentation he gave to Crestwood High School, encouraging young members of the community to step up and volunteer their time.

As President of The Hills Rotaract Club, Joel volunteers alongside new Shining Light member and Secretary for Hills Rotaract, Dani Milan.

Joel and his team thrive in social justice positions.

Joel said: “The first time I joined the Shining Light Foundation in Martin Place was in 2020 when Azita was still cutting hair. I saw how grateful people were for the hygienic product donations we were handing out and I had the time and energy to help. With the Shining Light Foundation, I managed to get people within my community to donate preloved clothes and blankets during winter.”

Shining Light Volunteers Handing Out Clothing Shining A Light On Homelessness
Volunteers hand out warm winter clothing to the homeless

Joel is often joined by other welcoming volunteers like Hills local and The Shining Light Foundation treasurer, Melanie Chee, who also wants to return dignity back to the homeless community;

“For me, I love volunteering for the Shining Light Foundation because what we do is give people who are less fortunate hope. For me,

‘Hope is important because it can make the present less difficult to bear’, which is a quote by Thich Nhat Han. We like to remind people that they are not alone.”

Last Christmas, I took part in writing the Christmas cards for the Shining Light Foundation, which also contained money to purchase any necessities. Eventssuch as these are significant as our homeless community are increasingly socially isolated due to the loss of critical connections.

If you have a few spare hours on a Monday evening, join Joel and this kind-hearted community at Martin Square, Sydney CBD from 7PM onwards. Check the ‘Shining Light Foundation’ Facebook page for any donations that they are in need of.

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