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(AU) Rebuilding the Wayside Chapel

 Michael Dolahenty from Cafe2U Cromer lends a hand at Wayside Chapel. 

Crossing the road to help rebuild the Wayside Chapel

May 20, 2012


Basking in a safe haven … Claudia Karvan talks to Cecilia Coucke at the launch of the revamped Wayside Chapel in Potts Point yesterday. Photo: Danielle Smith


AS A child growing up in Kings Cross, some of Claudia Karvan's neighbours would seek refuge at the Wayside Chapel.

''Even as a child I sensed the warmth that emanated from this place,'' the actress said yesterday, as she celebrated the chapel's revival.

Five years ago, the chapel - which has served Sydney's homeless since 1964 - was in danger of closing. Almost half the building on Hughes Street in Potts Point had been condemned with holes in the floors, ceilings and walls.

''There were 'Do Not Enter' signs everywhere,'' said the Reverend Graham Long, pastor of the chapel.

''Whenever it rained we had water views.''

Supporters of the chapel started an ambitious fund-raising drive to amass more than $8 million to re-build the derelict centre.

''Unfortunately, our decision to start fund-raising coincided perfectly with the global financial crisis - our timing was horrible,'' Mr Long said.

''We went to see lots of high net worth people who told me how poor they were.''

They managed to raise $3.2 million from private donations and a further $5 million was provided by the federal and state governments. The new building features a community hall, refurbished chapel, cafe, a program for people with long-term mental illness, a rooftop garden and a dedicated area for Aboriginal people.

Karvan said the building was a testament to the generosity of Sydney's people.

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