NEWS THAT MATTERS

A hero of our times

It’s comforting to know that some people in the community actually care about the plight of others and Hamlyn Terrace resident Christine Mastello is one of those people – a local hero who selflessly gives her time and energy for those less fortunate.

Right, front: Christine Mastello.

1 November 2022

ALAN HAYES

 

CHRISTINE Mastello, founder of Southlakes Incorported, wants you to know that the "typical" homeless person isn't who you'd think.

 

Southlakes Incorported provides services such as free haircuts, food hampers and a safe place to stay – Christine sleeps and breathes Southlakes! If a family needs food at 7 pm on a Sunday Chris jumps in her car and delivers. If a homeless agency we support needs more sleeping bags, Chris does a bag drive. If an elderly couple need a washing machine Chris starts a Go Fund Me. What is most inspiring about Christine is that she never thinks small. Community Hair Project has provided 147,000 free haircuts since 2017,

 

In the nine months leading up to Christmas 2020, her foodbanks gave away $185,000 worth of food to vulnerable community members.

 

She hands out hundreds of food hampers, pre-cooked meals and essentials for children and babies every week and is changing the way we approach homelessness.

 

Her most recent and third project, Share Your Home initiative, encourages locals who have a spare room to gift three months of free accommodation to someone who is homeless and needs a hand to get back on their feet.

 

Her charity also supported isolated seniors during COVID-19 lockdowns.

 

Since Covid Christine has expanded her locations and now assists people throughout the entire Central Coast.

 

During the September school holidays, her Community Haircuts, in conjunction with Glamorous Hair and Co Salon at Kanwal, handed out giveaway bags containing movie tickets and sweet packs to children receiving a free haircut.

 

"Parents are struggling and can feel overwhelmed when they can't  take their kids to the movies or a haircut." Christine said.

 

During September Christine also held ‘Plates for Mates’, “which had a wonderful outcome” for those less fortunate and “Dyson donated 150 toiletry packs”.

 

Christine’s amazing and heroic drive stems from her own childhood! “I had a terrible childhood,” she said, “my mother convinced everyone I was a horrible little girl, but I wasn’t.”

 

“I also asked people for help, but no would help. They believed my mother,” she said.

 

“Everyone believed mum was telling the truth but going to court proved her wrong.

 

“From that moment on I was determined that I would help people in need.”

 

Christine (Chris) Mastello wants everyone in the community to feel cared for and valued and runs several programs to help hundreds of people in need.

 

Selflessness hardly describes this local hero - she started a food bank in Lake Macquarie in 2013 with her own savings. At the time, her

15-year-old child was recovering from a stroke and her five-year-old with autism had four appointments a week. That didn’t stop Christine from seeing a need in her community and meeting it.

 

Christine’s not-for-profit, Southlakes Incorporated, now runs two walk-in food banks with three home delivery areas and supplies breakfast clubs at six schools. Southlakes hands out hundreds of hampers, pre-cooked meals and essentials every week – including clothing.

 

Southlakes delivered free food to 26,000 people during the first two years of COVID-19. It also donated $1.2 million to homeless groups all around New South Wales when lockdowns meant volunteers couldn’t help in person.

Christine, 52, also founded Community Hair Project, which is now nationwide. Volunteer hairdressers offer free haircuts and a toiletry kit to those in need. The program passed its 50,000th cut in 2022.

 

Christine's hard work has earned her a nomination for the NSW Local Hero category of the Australian of the Year awards.

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