Co.As.It. Community Services begins a new chapter in a new location. The Brisbane team have moved to newly renovated offices at 473 Lutwyche Road, Lutwyche. The building is the new home of all segments of the organisation including the Italian Language Centre (moving at the end of the school year). The building has a single level for all staff to enable consultation and connection. The new renovation includes state of the art kitchens and a beautiful break out space for all staff to utilise.
Bracken Ridge has a new Community Café at the newest community hub, Amici House, at Bracken Ridge. The former gospel chapel on Bracken Ridge Road has received a new life as a café and community facility. Opening the facility on 8 May, the Hon. Grace Grace MP, Minister for Education, Industrial Relations and Racing, praised the “wonderful” centre, noting the quality of service Co.As.It. has been providing to the community for more than 40 years, including to her own parents.
Other guests including Italian Vice Consul for Qld and NT Oreste Lastella, Luke Howarth MP, Cr. Tracy Davis, Cr. Sandy Landers, Co.As.It. CEO Dina Ranieri, Co.As.It. President Cav. Nereo Brezzi and President Com.It.Es (Committee for Italians Abroad) Mariangela Stagnitti, were among many other notable VIPs at the official opening. The commercial kitchen and various allied health equipment were obtained with funding from the Community Benefit Fund, which was represented by Alan Sparks, AM, BEM.
Beth Merkus and Sue Lawrence-Duman were thrilled to see their father’s legacy being repurposed. Designed and built originally by Albert Lawrence and Arthur Sweeney, the newly renovated community hub boasts a commercial kitchen, allied health facilities, a large deck for café guests and community gatherings, ramps and a 46 space carpark, making it easier for community members to access the facility. The centre will service Co.As.It. clients from Brisbane’s northern suburbs to Redcliffe, Sandgate, Pine Rivers and Caboolture, providing exercise classes, physiotherapy and podiatry, information sessions and social group activities.
The community café offers Italian cannoli, panini, arancini, lasagne as well as staples such as wraps and muffins. The range of coffees is extensive, all day options, and delicious smoothies are also on offer. The café is set in the beautifully landscaped gardens surrounding Amici House. Open from 7am to 2pm, Tuesday to Saturday, Amici House Café is located at 294 Bracken Ridge Road, Bracken Ridge.
View the menu here!
On Saturday 8 May 2021, Co.As.It. Community Services celebrated the official opening of its third community centre, Amici House in Bracken Ridge. Two events took place including a VIP event with over 60 guests including The Hon. Grace Grace MP, Qld Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing; The Hon. Luke Howarth MP, Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services, Federal Member for Petrie and also representing Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck and The Hon. Trevor Evans MP; Councillor Sandy Landers, Councillor for Bracken Ridge Ward representing Brisbane’s Lord Mayor; Councillor Tracy Davis, Councillor for McDowall Ward and Vice Consul Oreste Lastella, representing Her Excellency Francesca Tardioli and Italian Ambassador and Salvatore Napolitano, Italian Consul for Qld and NT.
The VIP event included a welcome speech by Cav. Nereo Brezzi, President of Co.As.It. Community Services, noting the organisation is going from strength to strength in catering to the needs of the community, with the centre being accessible to seniors and NDIS clients living in the Moreton Bay area covering Redcliffe and Caboolture communities. He acknowledged the work of Co.As.It. Treasurer, IT Manager Tony Brown, and CEO Dina Ranieri in making the centre a reality. The Hon. Grace Grace mentioned the “wonderful” centre itself which has a community cafè and large deck out the front, the service rooms for physio and podiatry, the beautiful auditorium allowing community members to come together. She acknowledged Co.As.It. for providing quality services for over 40 years assisting seniors, including her own mum and dad who benefitted when they were alive. The “Stay Active” room was described as a “terrific” space for seniors to exercise. The minister mentioned the importance of community and centres such as Amici House.
Local Bracken Ridge Councillor Sandy Launders said she was “really impressed” with the community centre and will look into using it for upcoming events. One of the features of the centre is a fully equipped catering kitchen made possible by the Gambling Community Benefit Fund that provided a grant and was represented by Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Alan Sparks, AM, BEM. Other amenities include a large outdoor patio, onsite parking, ramps for ease of access and beautifully landscaped gardens. VIPs were treated to generous chef-prepared canapès, peach bellinis, sponsored by Phil D’Aro from Ital’iquore, and cups of coffee from the Amici House Community Cafè.
In the afternoon, a Community Open Day welcomed over 100 visitors, including Co.As.It. staff, clients living in the local area, the local community and their families.
Greeted by a team of friendly volunteers who handed out show bags, drinks, and refreshments. The afternoon festivities included music by Nick Trovas, free coffees and time to sit and relax, enjoying the facilities and surrounds. Very special surprise guests were the two daughters of the person who built the original gospel chapel, Mr Albert Lawrence. Daughters Beth Merkus and Sue Lawrence-Duman attended the event, honouring their father’s effort who together with Mr Arthur Sweeney designed and built the church. They learned of the event after Beth’s daughter got a flyer in the local mail, calling her mother in relief and excitement knowing the church was to be given new life as a community centre.
On the day the Co.As.It. staff said our clients cannot wait to attend as soon as the social groups are scheduled, the centre will also provide NDIS workshops and social events. The opening of Amici House was a huge success.
In early 2021, the Italian Language Centre was delighted to be selected as the fortunate recipient of a Community Languages Multicultural Grant under the Multicultural sector of the Department of Home Affairs.
In keeping with its mission ‘to sustain our national unity in cultural diversity’, the office of Multicultural Affairs provides the opportunity for community language schools to apply for grants under its Community Languages Multiple Grants Program. The program provides funding to eligible community language schools to help young Australian students learn another language and connect to the language and culture of their forefathers.
The Multicultural Affairs office believes that teaching language and culture through community schools contributes to strengthening social cohesion and building strong communities.
The grant’s aim is to support the teaching and learning of languages other than English thus connecting students to the language and culture of their community and improving cross-cultural awareness and respect for cultural diversity.
ILC was thrilled with the grant which will fund a Project to develop a curriculum for teaching Italian to multi-age and multi-grade classes outside of school hours.
The curriculum is being developed by a team of experienced mother-tongue ILC teachers, experts in the teaching of Italian to speakers of other languages. The Project will be completed by end-June, just in time for the start of Semester 2 After School Italian classes.
ILC is grateful to the Department of Home Affairs’ Multicultural office for granting the opportunity to create a new curriculum that will guide teachers to deliver engaging lessons and enhance the community school’s teaching and learning of Italian language and culture.
Harmonious Workplace Celebrates Multiculturalism
About 60 people gathered at Co.As.It. recently, to celebrate Harmony Day. With enough food to feed five times as many people, the acknowledgement that we’ve all come from somewhere else was demonstrated by food from all over the world. Having acknowledge the Turrbal and Jagera peoples as the traditional owners of the land, staff shared recipes and dishes from their ancestors’ countries of origin, before participating in some gentle Latin dancing.
With staff speaking a total of 52 languages, other than English, Co.As.It. is a microcosm of Australia and definitely somewhere that should celebrate its successful multiculturalism. What began as a day to acknowledge March 21st, the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has grown to a week of celebrating Australia’s multiculturalism and the successful integration of immigrants into the community.
Co.As.It. staff placed posters, maps, flags and other mementos of their heritage on the walls and chatted about the history of the foods they had brought, almost all of which were home-made. The blue and orange Co.As.It. uniforms were enriched with Mexican tapestry belts, national soccer team shirts and various other accessories, or by additional orange, the Harmony Day colour. The Harmony Day website states that traditionally, orange signifies social communication and meaningful conversations. It also relates to the freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect. Many people choose to wear something orange during Harmony Week to show their support for cultural diversity and an inclusive Australia.
Co.As.It. runs free weekly dance classes at the Italian Language Centre in Newmarket and staff were treated to half an hour of dancing with professional Latin dance teacher Rafael Pitarello. Staff left the event feeling refreshed and that night, many family members were treated to leftovers from the day. For information about Co.As.It.’s free dance classes, contact Cintia Paolino on 3624 6100 or email email@example.com.
Would you like to improve the condition of your heart and lungs, muscle tone and strength, balance and spatial awareness, mental functioning, general and psychological wellbeing as well as increase your muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness, aerobic fitness, physical confidence, self-confidence and self-esteem, coordination, agility and flexibility as well as get better social skills, improve weight management and strengthen your bones to reduce the risk of osteoporosis? Obviously the answer is yes! According to Victoria Health, dancing can help you achieve all of this and the greatest bonus is that it’s fun.
Of the multitude of dance styles, ballroom, Latin, line dancing, square dancing, jazz, ballet, contemporary, tap, etc. etc., there’s bound to be one to suit every taste and age. Co.As.It. Community Services Ltd offers free Latin dance classes for anyone aged over 16, who can move independently without aids such as walking sticks or wheelies. The classes are held Thursday afternoons at the Italian Language Centre, Newbery Street, Newmarket and are taught by a qualified Latin dance teacher who breaks the steps down and goes at a pace suitable for even the most basic of beginners.
The physical health benefits listed above are fairly obvious, what is less obvious, however, is the benefit to mental functioning of creating new neural pathways, which happens when you’re learning new steps. The more complex your neural synapses are, the better your memory is. Learning anything new, such as choreography to a dance routine, is an effective way to create new neural pathways. As a result, your brain has an easier time accessing stored information and memories, such as names and places[i].
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine states that dancing decreases the risk of dementia by 76 percent. Other physical activities such as bicycling, swimming, and playing golf had no effect. Yet, dancing was even better for maintaining mental acuity than cognitive activities such as reading and doing crossword puzzles.
Classes are conducted in a COVID-safe environment with the option of dancing opposite partners without holding hands. People who live in the same household are welcome to use the correct dance hold, but there’s absolutely no need to have a partner. Come and make new friends, or bring some friends with you. Bookings are essential, so contact Cintia by phone, 3624 6100.
Our social group outings are back after a long hiatus. The first for 2021 will take place on the 22 February 2021 from Brisbane South to the Botanical Gardens Cafe and then to Greenmount RSL. You can check out the information on the flyer here. For those living on the north side of Brisbane, the same trip is on offer – you can view the flyer here. The social outings have been a hallmark of Co.As.It. for over 40 years. Participation is for people who are over 65 and have contacted My Aged Care and obtained a referral for social support (which enables participation in ‘social groups’). The program falls under Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CSHP). The process can be started via a call to My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 (free call).
Informative ‘get together’ at the Italian Language Centre. 42 Newbery Street, Newmarket.
Ages 16+ are welcome.
All Social Group Activity centres are closed until 25 January 2021 in line with the Qld Govt. Public Health Direction, provided there are zero cases of community transmission until 1am on 22nd January.
All Stay Active Classes are postponed until 25 January 2021 in line with the Qld Govt. Public Health Direction, provided there are zero cases of community transmission until 1am on 22nd January.
All Dance Classes are postponed until 28 January 2021 in line with the Qld Govt. Public Health Direction, provided there are zero cases of community transmission until 1am on 22nd January. There are a few spots left – every Thursday at 3.15 pm – 4.15 pm – please call 3624 6100 to reserve your spot.
Christmas is a polarising time of year. For most, it is a time to gather with family and reflect on the year that was. For others, it exacerbates loneliness and isolation. In a year when isolation has been the over-riding theme, Co.As.It. Community Services Ltd has tried to show some of its most vulnerable clients that they’re not alone and that people care about them. Forty very deserving clients received luxury hampers with contents individually sourced and packed by Co.As.It. staff. Judging by the tears and deep gratitude expressed by most recipients, this small gesture made a big difference by brightening many Christmases.
One client has been recently widowed and forced to move to less expensive rental accommodation. As a pensioner, whose only child lives overseas and without family in Queensland, she was facing a bleak Christmas. While the hamper won’t change her isolation on Christmas day, it will at least remind her that there are people near who care about her and it will enable her to indulge a little over the festive season.
Another client has a daughter who lives in Austria and a son who lives in Hervey Bay, but doesn’t visit. She has daily telephone contact with a brother, but no face-to-face contact. She was overwhelmed and delighted to receive the hamper, stating that she will be spending Christmas day alone.
For most of us, the lifting of border restrictions and the number of people allowed to gather in homes, means that a “Covid-normal” Christmas won’t be very different to a usual Christmas. Unfortunately, for many elderly and disadvantaged Australians, being alone at Christmas is usual. Whilst a Christmas hamper may not fill the void created by the absence of family and friends, it does remind people that there are others who care about them and wish them well, now and throughout the year.
The humility of some clients can be overwhelming. One of the recipients has recently been discharged from hospital and is receiving shopping assistance. He rents with two other men and has not seen any family members for more than 40 years, but despite this, suggested that perhaps Co.As.It. should give the hamper to a “more deserving” client. He was assured that he was very deserving and he ultimately accepted the hamper, but wouldn’t smile in the photo due to his lack of teeth.
Another deserving recipient is recovering from two surgeries intended to improve her mobility, whilst visiting her 20-something son who’s recently been diagnosed with two aggressive cancers, in hospital every day. A Co.As.It. client since 2015, this lovely woman is always ready with a cold drink and a biscuit for her care workers, conscious that they often spend all day out and about.
Every hamper recipient has been overcome with gratitude and each one was truly deserving. Co.As.It. wishes each and every client and their families a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2021.