Home > Features > Reverend Ansie Liebenberg on Warwick Killarney Parish partnering with Protea Place

Reverend Ansie Liebenberg on Warwick Killarney Parish partnering with Protea Place

By Andrew McKaysmith, Synod Writer and Content Creator

In a recent interview, Reverend Ansie Liebenberg from Warwick Uniting Church shed light on the transformative work carried out in Warwick, Killarney, and Freestone as part of the Project Plenty initiative that the church embarked on three years ago to create a flourishing community by addressing critical areas of need and providing support to vulnerable individuals.

Rev Ansie highlighted the urgent requirement for a centralised space for vulnerable women in the community. “We discovered that there was no place for vulnerable women to access essential support services,” she said. The project plenty initiative also identified affordable housing as another critical concern within the region. “Affordable housing has been a key area of focus for us during the last three years,” Rev Ansie acknowledged the importance of leveraging the existing resources within the community to address this pressing issue.

One significant development that spurred the leadership forward was the deteriorating condition of an old building near the church, which had served the community for the past two decades. “The old building was in a state of disrepair, and the community centre and Op-Shop, known as the Lighthouse, had outgrown its current space,” Rev Ansie revealed.

In their pursuit of suitable partnerships, A task team of Church leadership visited various initiatives, including Protea Place, a drop-in centre for women in Toowoomba. Impressed by the values and potential impact of the project within their community, they saw an opportunity for collaboration. “Protea Place had successfully catered to women In Toowoomba but women as far as Warwick, Stanthorpe, Killarney, and Freestone, who travelled to Toowoomba to access the services.  We believed it could benefit our community,” Rev Ansie explained. The project garnered strong support from the community, with a successful launch event held in November of last year. “The community embraced the model and the opportunities it offered vulnerable women,” Rev Ansie acknowledged, expressing gratitude for the overwhelming support received.

To facilitate the realisation of their goals, the project embarked on fundraising efforts to renovate the old building and to raise funds for at least one year of operational costs to employ staff and running costs—local volunteers, mostly church members, dedicated countless hours to restoring the building’s former glory. “Approximately 800 to 900 volunteer hours have been contributed this year, working diligently on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays,” Rev Ansie proudly stated. With the restoration progressing steadily, the old building was set to have a rededication ceremony and blessing service for the future project. Rev Ansie expressed excitement about witnessing the transformation and emphasised the importance of recognising and appreciating the dedicated volunteers and disciples involved in the project.

The official opening of Protea Place is scheduled for July 31st, following the completion of interior renovations. Rev Ansie outlined the remaining tasks: “We have had to redo the kitchen, floors, and bathrooms, with tiling work currently underway.” The project is anticipated to require an additional month for staff training and furnishing before its operation in Warwick.

Acknowledging the timing considerations, Rev Ansie and the project organisers chose to commence operations after the conclusion of the Jumpers and Jazz festivities, which are set to take place for ten days starting on July 20th. This decision aims to ensure that the project receives the focused attention it deserves.

When asked about the most significant challenge faced thus far and potential challenges in the future, Rev Ansie reflected on the project’s journey. “We have encountered numerous obstacles along the way, but we have also witnessed divine intervention and the support of the right people at the right time,” she shared. Rev Ansie expressed confidence in the project’s ability to overcome future challenges, highlighting the adaptive and resilient nature of the team involved. “The community in Warwick needs and wants this project. They have shown tremendous generosity by raising funds and attracting highly qualified individuals to join our cause,” Rev Ansie stated with gratitude. She emphasised her faith in the project’s nimbleness to deal with obstacles, expressing confidence in overcoming future challenges.

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