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Manna Gum Community Lounge opens again

• It was almost full-house in the Manna Gum Community Lounge in Foster on Monday November 8 – it must have been the homemade vanilla slice with baby-pink icing! Pictured from left are Manna Gum volunteer Karen Rathjen, Mary Prosser, Sally Conroy, Bev McGregor, volunteer Robyn Carseldine, Jan Power, Joanne Thomas, Community Lounge supervisor for the day Rhonda Mallows, Jenny Weimar and Gwenda Bevan.

THERE’S not very many things that are more heart-warming than a cuppa, a slice or two of homemade cake and lively conversations with like-minded sorts, just like you’ll find in the Manna Gum Community Lounge in Foster.

After more than a year punctuated by COVID-19-induced restrictions and lockdowns, the Community Lounge is open again for everyone to enjoy three times each week.

The Lounge may be found at Manna Gum Community House on the corner of Station Road and Court Street.

Volunteers cheerfully serve coffee and tea, baked treats and fresh sandwiches between 11 am and 2 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, and from 9.30 am to 1 pm on Saturdays.

Local residents, visiting passers-by, people taking part in Manna Gum courses and activities, as well as anyone simply wanting a pleasant place to rest for a moment or two are always welcome in the Community Lounge’s indoor and outside spaces.

The striking teal-blue walls of the main Lounge contrast beautifully with the pastel kitchen area and the natural timber tones of furniture, shelves and flooring.

Manna Gum manager Bec Matthews said during the first lockdown in 2020 Community House staff and volunteers took the opportunity to completely refurbish the Community Lounge.

“We wanted to improve the safety of the space and make it more accessible and family-friendly,” she said.

“The South Gippsland Shire Council replaced the carpet and put in a multi-purpose hard floor, we re-painted the walls and our volunteer Andreas built some new cabinetry.

“We also utilised some of the funds from the Business Support Grant Manna Gum received to make the space compliant with our COVIDSafe procedures,” Bec said.

“The Manna Gum Community Lounge has been very popular since then with a variety of users including the two playgroups, our tai chi group, the sewing circle, and the Manna Community Garden members, just to name a few.”

Manna Gum is always keen to hear from those who would like to join the band of Community House volunteers, as well as anyone who is interested in learning hospitality and customer service skills in the Community Lounge.

“Volunteers find out how to go about keeping to COVID-19 regulations while following Manna Gum’s guiding principles of friendly inclusion and supportive interaction,” Bec said.

“We can also offer both our volunteers and local community members the chance to get their Food Safety certificate, which could lead on to jobs at other places in the future,” she said.

“The Community Lounge isn’t a café as such, it’s more a central hub where people may make new social connections over a coffee, choose a book from our exchange, and buy a jar of homemade jam or a roll of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper from our community fundraising stall.”

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