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GALLERY: $250,000 vow finds a home at Mum’s Cottage


Picking up $250,000 was probably the last thing on Sister Helen-Anne Johnson’s mind when she arrived at Mum’s Cottage this week.

But, that’s exactly what occurred on Monday morning following a visit by Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek, Labor candidate for Hunter Dan Repacholi, Newcastle federal MP Sharon Claydon and Lake Macquarie City mayor Kay Fraser.

The quartet promised the not-for-profit community-based organisation would receive the hefty windfall, to upgrade and repair the popular Holmesville hub, if Labor wins the upcoming election.

Mum’s Cottage provides free services, such as mentoring, counselling, workshops, support groups, advocacy, wellbeing strategies, parenting programs and education, to families as they navigate their way through difficult and challenging times.

The facility is also reliant on the generosity of supporters and volunteers to keep all the initiatives operational.

“I’m overawed [by the announcement],” Sister Helen-Anne said.

“It’s been a big shock – I knew nothing about it until this morning.

“I received a call from Dan [Repacholi] on Friday who told me he was bringing two people to Mum’s Cottage [today].

“Then, this morning, I found out Tanya and Kay would be here, too.”

Sister Helen-Anne admitted $250,000 would make a big difference to the group.

“We’ll be able to continue our work; and help a lot of people,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“Upstairs is all the professional ‘things’, so what we’d like to do is utilise downstairs as a calm, quiet place so mums can sit and have a coffee.

“And, while the kids play in the corner, they can have a bit of ‘me time’.

“Sometimes, when the top area is full, it can be over-powering.

“Even though we like hearing the children playing and laughing, it’s nice for the mothers to have some time out, too.

“Mum’s Cottage is celebrating 10 years in a fortnight as well.

“So, the timing [of the news] is perfect – it’s a great birthday present.

“I still can’t believe it.”

Mr Repacholi said Mum’s Cottage was well-known to the Holmesville community and deserved Labor’s backing.

“It’s a place where women can access crucial support services, but it also houses a co-op clothing and bric-a-brac shed,” he stated.

“The service is based out of the Uniting Church Hall, which is in dire need of new piers, painting and waterproofing.

“Labor wants to take the pressure off this organisation [in having to find the money], so Mum’s Cottage can do what it does best – support women in the Hunter.”

Sister Helen-Anne and her team of dedicated volunteers would love to hear from you or, even better, meet you in person at 29 St Helen Street, Holmesville.

You can also reach Mums’ Cottage on 4953 4105 or by visiting the website at

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