The Manning Foundation History
The Manning Foundation was established in 2004 after the death of Stephen Edward Manning. The history of the Foundation goes back to 1986 with its roots in the Rydalmere the geographical heart Sydney and approximately 5 minutes from Parramatta.
The Early Years of the Foundation
Prior to the Foundation being formally established the group of individual behind it operated an annual Christmas luncheon for the needy. The concept was fairly simple, it involved giving a Christmas experience to those who would otherwise not have one.
On the 12th of August 1987 James Patrick Ross passed away and was buried by the then Parish Priest of St. Bernadette’s Parish, Dundas Valley, Father Higgins. At the time his son, Peter Ross, asked the Father if there was anything that he could do to repay him for his caring and compassionate service. The Father knew Peter was in the food industry and responded that “I will probably come lean on you come Christmas time”.
A few weeks before Christmas, Peter got the phone call he was expecting from Father Higgins. So through his network of work associates at Flemington Markets Peter collected up fresh fruit and vegetables and delivered them to the local school hall where they were put amongst hampers going out for the needy for the Christmas.
In 1988, with Christmas fast approaching Peter rang his old friend Stephen Manning (Steve) owned and operated a local hotel the Family Inn Hotel, Rydalmere. Peter also contacted Loraine Bonisoli who was at that time working with the St Vincent’s DePaul Society in the area to help coordinate the needy for this Christmas event.
On the second Tuesday of December 1988, the second Tuesday of the month, the first Christmas for the Needy was held. Just over 60 individuals attended from many of the local hospitals and nursing homes attended, and the success of the day motivated all involved to commit to the project the following year.
Support and Development
With a newly established need for a Christmas for the needy, Peter & Steve set about to ensure that there were adequate resources for the Foundation to operate each year. Peter owned operated a food processing company in Auburn, and with his extensive contacts at the local markets ensured that fresh produce would always be available for the annual event. Meanwhile Steve leveraged his industry and personal contacts to get packaged goods from Woolworths, beverages from Carlton United Breweries, and financial donations from friends.
A need for entertainment lead to Peter’s long term friend Col Joye being called to perform, ultimately resulting in Col being appointed the Patron for the Foundation.
In 2000 Steve sold the Family Inn, where the Christmas Luncheons were being held, with the continued need to hold the event, a search for a new location was on. Thankfully Rydalmere Central Bowling Club was across the road from the Hotel and in 2001 the venue was first utilised. With the new venue came the ability to expand the capacity of those whom we served. From 70-90 people at the Family Inn, to the new expanded capacity of 230, lunch at Christmas would never be the same.
A Change of Name
The operation of the Foundation continued purely for the purpose of the Christmas for the Needy until the passing of Steve on the 6th of June 2004. Shortly after his passing, his son James committed to the continual operation of the Foundation’s Christmas luncheon. Peter & Lorraine approached James with the idea of naming the Christmas luncheon in Steve’s name.
In the Christmas of 2004 the luncheon was entitled the “Steve Manning Christmas Lunch” in a year which saw over 200 guests attend. The disadvantaged were just as much in need of support in 2004 as ever.
After reviewing the help that the Foundation was doing in 2005, and the greater needs of the local community, James, Lorraine and Peter decided that they should look into the formal incorporation of the Foundation. James contacted long time lawyer & friend Chris Brown of Brown Wright Stein Lawyers (BWS). With the assistance of BWS the foundation was formally incorporated by deed poll on the 8th of May 2006.
At this stage the Foundation recognised that it would need additional support and skills to help run and operate the organisation. Long term supporter and cousin of Steve, Mr. Christopher Bregenhoj (Chris), offered to lend assist, and became a Director of the newly incorporated Foundation. Both Peter and James both were appointed directors at the time of incorporation.
Links with the Community
With a formal legal structure in place the Foundation needed to ensure that it was being recognised in the community. Being focused on work with the Dundas/Telopea region initially, a formal relationship with the local parish was established. By utilising the requests for assistance that the parish was receiving the Foundation immediately started to provide assistance in the local area. By partnering and working with other community service organisations the Foundation quickly found itself an integral part of the local support network for the needy and disadvantaged.
The First Op-Shop
The more work the Foundation did the greater the need for a physical presence in the community. In January 2007 the Foundation committed to opening its first Op-Shop which gave us both a retail outlet and place to direct the needy. The opening occurred on the 23rd of March and was attended by local members from Parramatta City Council, representatives from the Department of Housing, the Department of Community Services, as well as media and numerous well-wishers.
The Op-Shop has been a tremendous success for the Foundation. It provides the Foundation with a much need regular income through the sale of second hand clothing. Donations from clothing quickly exceeded the storage capacity of the Op-Shop and members were suddenly storing stock in spare garage space at home. Finally in late 2008 after much searching for a suitable space, the Foundation leased a local and unused Scout Hall. The addition of the storage took pressure off supporters to store clothes at home, while making the Op-Shop operation more efficient.