How volunteering changed my perspective on Sydney.

I never thought that helping cook someone else’s dinner – someone homeless, could profoundly effect me.

Bondi Beauty Founder Renae Leith-Manos volunteering for Birds of Passage.

Being a single mum, I am cooking dinner and doing things for others (so to speak) most nights of the week, but stepping outside of my comfort zone and onto the streets of Darlinghurst to cook for around 100 homeless people was quite an experience.

Birds of Passage is a charity relying on volunteers to help feed the homeless two nights a week in Sydney. They rely on donations of meat, vegetables and fruit, and the help of volunteers to cook, clean and serve dinner to the many people who turn up for a plate of food.

I have been to South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. I have seen starving people, and the devastation poverty can bring. But seeing people in my own ‘backyard’ in Sydney’s eastern suburbs is truly humbling.

These people are walking our streets starving every day, whilst we scour the same streets for the latest bar, fashion item, beauty product or restaurant.

Some are old, some are young. Many are men. And they are so hungry, they come back for seconds, and there’s not always enough to give it to them. When they’re given a plate of food, they light up. It means everything to them in that moment.

Often they want to talk, they want a chat. They are looking to connect, to feel the emotional warmth of others.

We’re spoilt, but we don’t know how spoilt we are until we confront the reality of how so many people have to live.

Volunteering not only  helped me connect with people less fortunate than myself, it helped me connect with myself. It helped me realise a whole raft of things. Mostly how lucky we all are, and that so many things we give brevity to are really not that important. It made me realise how much people need people.

All sounds cliche, but when you do it, it changes you. I don’t think you ever regret helping someone else.

Cooking dinner for Sydney based charity Birds Of Passage.

“Research shows that people are happier when they volunteer as they enjoy giving back and making their community a better place,” said Jon Dee, the Founder of DoSomething, an organisation set up to help people volunteer.

A site has been set up to help people connect with people near them who need help:

Not for Profit Birds Of Passage have a fundraiser this Sunday, and are always looking for help.  Read more here:


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Renae Leith-Manos

Editor and Founder of Bondi Beauty

Renae Leith-Manos loves fitness, new beauty products, long chats and long flights. She is at her best when traveling the world writing about luxury hotels and Michelin Star restaurants ( She has had a colourful media career as a journalist inmagazines and newspapers, in Australia and Asia. She spends her time writing, cooking, consulting to new businesses, running and working out.

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