Brother Doug Walsh and the Vinnies Soup Van – 1980s to 2017
Since the 1980s Brother Doug Walsh has regularly been one of the driving forces sustaining the provision of hot soup and sandwiches to Melbourne’s homeless, as the book commemorating 40 years of such faithful service proclaims: “Every evening without fail”.
Only this year Br Doug relinquished his responsibility as President of the St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) Fitzroy Soup Van after many years of faithful service. Duties have covered the superintendence of everything necessary to keep the soup and meals up to clients: organising, and working with his team for the purchasing, fitting out and maintenance of vehicles; purchase and preparation of fresh food; arrangement of schedules of drivers and volunteers; scheduling school visits, including greeting and briefing; ever-developing compliance regulations; paying bills while juggling varieties of personalities and trying to keep everyone happy and on task.
On many evenings, over several decades, Doug would be there, cold, rain, hail or shine in his hi-vis vest doing the nitty-gritty of serving the less fortunate. It’s the sort of service to those struggling with life that Father Champagnat himself demonstrated when he provided a special home within the Hermitage precincts in France for those with nowhere else to go.
As out-going President of the Vinnies Soup Van, Br Doug provided the Foreword for this richly illustrated book which, along with the many changes and transformations of the Vinnies Soup Van service over the years, details numerous anecdotes and outlines of many of the personalities, both those on the street and those serving.
Well done, Doug.
(Copies can be purchased by contacting the St Vincent de Paul Society, Melbourne.)
Br Barry Lamb
Marist Heidelberg West Community