3 November, 2022
100 years of Vinnies
For years it has been the perfect place for costumes, preloved books, and sometimes even an absolute treasure.
St Vincent de Paul shops, better known as Vinnies,
have celebrated 100 years of raising money for their services,
and Gilgandra’s store was no exception.
Past and present volunteers gathered at the Wamboin
Street store last Friday, many reminiscing old times,
others catching up with old friends.
Vinnies area manager of the northwest, Karen
Heidke, said that Gilgandra’s team has always been a
standout in the region.
“I have nine stores ranging from Gunnedah, Walgett,
to Coona, all the way to Kandos, and they’re all great
teams. But this team especially, is amazing,” said Ms
“They’re so giving to the community; you just couldn’t
sing their praises high enough. They are amazing
volunteers; they’re very much family and they lean on
each other and support each other – which is what
Vinnies is all about.”
Ms Heidke was blown away with the dedication the
Gilgandra community has shown to the store since
opening many decades ago. But this wouldn’t come as a
surprise to Gilgandra locals.
“The volunteers are more than willing to help which
I think is amazing. And a lot of them are at that stage of
life where they could be sitting back doing nothing - but
they just don’t do that. They continue to step out and
help anyone in need,” said Ms Heidke.
“Gilgandra should be very proud of their Vinnies
team, because I know Vinnies is very proud of them.”
Proof is in the pudding, Helen McKenzie is one of the
few that have racked up three decades of service to
Gilgandra Vinnies. Not entirely sure how she started,
Ms McKenzie always felt she had a duty, and wanted to
do what could to help those in need.
“When I was a kid in Wellington, I was in different
organisations, and I would go around visiting people
who needed help,” she said.
“You just have that inner sense telling you to help.
Some people can help themselves, and some people
can’t. A lot of the time people just wanted companionship,
someone to talk to. And I’m pretty good at talking.”
Reflecting on Gilgandra Vinnies history, dedicated
volunteer for two decades, Allan Findlay, recalled being
at the 75th celebrations.
He said that while much has changed over 25 years,
the local support has hardly dwindled.
“We used to deliver money to the people who needed
it, but now they have to come to us to get that help.
It’s changed a lot over the past few years, but the shop
has stayed strong,” said Mr Findlay.
“There are two parts to Vinnies, the shop and the
conference, but the shops is where the ladies did a lot of
work. There were four or five on each day, and there’s
still that, which is phenomenal.”
Gilgandra Vinnies has seen multiple changes of
venue and president over time, and everyone involved in
some way was acknowledged for their support at the
event last Friday.
Vinnies provides programs and services for people who are at risk of or who are homeless across Australia, and the Vinnies stores are one of the ways the organisation helps fund these programs.