Celebrating International Women’s Day – Jade Hamilton, Lazarus Community Centre Geelong

Jade Hamilton - Lazarus March 2024

The Geelong Community Foundation is proud to highlight some of the incredible women working in the for purpose sector in our community, in the lead-up to International Women’s Day on March 8.

Lazarus Community Centre Geelong is a voluntary, community drop-in centre that provides services such as a cooked lunch, shower and laundry facilities, and access to clothing, bedding and toiletry items.
The centre provides shared indoor/outdoor spaces where individuals can rest, socialise, play pool, access computers or watch TV.

Jade Hamilton has been General Manager at the centre for the past 18-months and believes that Lazarus is much more than just these practical services.
“It is a place that offers warmth, comfort, community, connection, and a sense of belonging and purpose,” she said.

“What is also very important to note is that Lazarus is run predominately by 60 of the most selfless and dedicated volunteers; without them, Lazarus would not exist.”

Jade oversees the day-to-day operations of Lazarus including management of staff and volunteers, meeting with external stakeholders, and working on programs within the centre that will support its clients and the community.

“Our mission is to provide a safe and welcoming space for people to meet and be supported as valued members of our community, and our vision is to improve the lives and wellbeing of people living in the Geelong area who may be homeless, lonely or socially-isolated. All people are welcome whether they are homeless or not,” she said.

“I believe connection is key. It’s about meeting a person where they are at, understanding their story, and offering and providing support that is individual to them and their needs. It’s cliché, but people really are the experts of their own story.”

When asked about the most significant moment of her time in the role, Jade says that every day at Lazarus is a highlight.

“Sometimes we might be the only person who addresses another person by their name for the entire day, or offers a smile, or asks how they are. These are small things, but they make such a big difference,” she said.

“I think the other thing is watching the connections that are formed between our clients. We recently had one of our clients in hospital; he doesn’t have a lot of family, but he was visited by some friends that he has made here at Lazarus. This friendship also extended to him being transported to Apollo Bay by another client, when he was discharged from hospital, just so he didn’t have to return to sleeping on the streets.”

When asked about her hope for the future of the organisation, Jade would like for Lazarus to continue to remain authentic in its purpose, approach and the services it provides, both on an individual and community level.

“I am working on implementing an ‘in reach service’ program, whereby allied health professionals and other key specialists will meet individuals here at Lazarus and provide individuals with relevant supports and services,” she said.

“As we support a large cohort of the homelessness community, particularly those sleeping rough, making, keeping, and attending appointments, weeks in advance, can be really challenging, when every day is spent surviving.”

When asked about International Women’s Day, Jade highlights a day to stop and reflect on all the wonderful women before us, surrounding us, and who are yet to come.
“It is a day to acknowledge and celebrate all of the amazing work that is being done by women in our community and abroad,” she said.

“My advice for any women in the for purpose sector is don’t be afraid to take risks, to have a voice and sand up for what you believe in. Be kind, compassionate, tenacious and positively influential.”

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