Faith, friendship and floral arranging

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TAFE teacher Tina Nguyen leads the floristry workshop. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
TAFE teacher Tina Nguyen leads the floristry workshop. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Friendships are blooming in Ashfield thanks to a floral-inspired outreach program bringing busy school mums and other parishioners together.

Linda Salim, president of St Vincent’s Primary Ashfield’s parents and friends committee, came across the idea of a free floristry course to grow relationships and women’s self-confidence through her friend and fellow school mum Sengmon Maran who works with the migrant and refugee community in Sydney’s south west.

With the enthusiastic support of St Vincent’s principal Antonella Dolores and the family educator Sinead Kent, Ms Salim approached the nearest TAFE to see if a similar course held at Villawood earlier this year could be run for the inner west community at the school.

Every Friday sees more than 30 women of various ages at the school hall to learn the art and business of floristry, with crucial time management and parenting tips thrown in.

They say it provides connection with other local women and is giving them a chance to enjoy learning something new, learn the basics of creating a small business or simply save lots of money by learning to do their children’s graduation buttonholes and corsages, or make gifts or decorations.

Even the local Catholic club, Club Ashfield, is supporting the project, offering its van to take the group on excursions to the Sydney Flower Market.

Ms Dolores said it was great to see local agencies come together and be part of one community to support the local area.

Lisa, one of the mothers, makes a corsage. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Participant Lonny Radevic makes a corsage. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“Ashfield’s community is very diverse and inclusive, and it’s great to see so many people come together like this,” she said. “It’s just the beginning of building a very strong and mutually supportive network of schools and parish.”

Mrs Kent said she was delighted to see the take up of the weekly get-together which is building on the bonds between the parish, its primary school and the two Catholic high schools, De La Salle and Bethlehem College.

“It’s not easy to get people to commit to something every week and the minimum number we needed to get to was 15 to be able to offer the course so this has been wonderful,” she said.

“It’s brought the whole community together, it is real hands-on learning and nobody goes home with anything less than spectacular.”

Mum of three Lisa Arcuri said that the 10-week course is a unique offering that “brings everyone closer together” in a weekly activity that’s as much fun as it is practical.

TAFE teacher Tina Nguyen helps some the participants during the floristry workshop. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
TAFE teacher Tina Nguyen helps some of the participants during the floristry workshop. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“This is amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere,” she said.

“It’s easy as a mum to get lost in doing things for our kids, being a supportive partner and forgetting about ourselves.

“We’re always trying to fit so much in so it is nice to be able to meet new people and get some ‘me’ time.”

TAFE head teacher of career pathways and employability skills, Dragica Sinikoski, said that she is pleased to introduce the women to vocational education and training options.

“It models for their children the value of education as a life-long process,” she said.

“The feedback from some of the mums is that it benefits the children as much as them.”

For their grand floral finale, the group has offered to provide the flower arrangements for the St Vincent’s Day Mass on 22 September when the community will also celebrate the 125th anniversary of the laying of the church’s foundation stone.