A house where refugee women laugh together with their Aussie counterparts has been named the beneficiary of Newcastle's 10th annual Lord Mayor's Prayer Breakfast.
Zara's House, founded by former Citizen of the Year Sister Diana Santleben, received a cheque for $16,000 from Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes this morning, a few weeks after representatives of Newcastle churches and businesses attended the annual early-morning fundraiser at Wests Leagues Club.
Councillor Matthew Byrne (L) with Sister Di, the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor and Soul Cafe's Rick Prosser.
"I am delighted to present this cheque to Sister Di for Zara's House after it has helped enrich our community by welcoming refugee women into it," the Lord Mayor said.
"Sister Di saw the need for a safe place where newly arrived women could have fun with Australian women by sharing their time and talents while learning English and settling into a new home and culture.
"The house really is a wonderful, joyful story of compassion."
Sister Di also saw an opportunity for the women to share their skills and cultures through art and craft activities.
The idea was hatched while enjoying the company of Afghan women at nearby Penola House in Mayfield West.
The Jesmond site was dubbed Zara’s House after one of the Afghan refugee women.
The refugees meet with other creative women from Hunter TAFE, the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health at Zara House to enjoy crafts, such as weaving and sewing.
The Lord Mayor also thanked long-term supporters of the breakfast for five years of sponsorship. They include: St Philip's Christian College, Maitland Christian School, Belmont Christian College, Power Solutions, Steeline Hunter, C3 Church Victory, West Group and Rhema FM 99.7.
The Annual Lord Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is a gathering of churches, charities, businesses and community leaders.
In 2009, a group of pastors approached then-Lord Mayor Cr John Tate about an annual charity breakfast and the tradition as born.
Over the past decade, more than $75,000 has been donated to charities such as the DALE Young Parents School (2017), Girl Friday (2016), and the Hunter Women’s Centre (2015).