From his apartment across the road from Jeays Street Community Centre in inner-city Brisbane, Chazz watched as locals flocked to and from the building. He watched as job-hunters wandered in to type up their resumes on the centre’s computers, as volunteers chatted, and as residents diced vegetables for one of the many events held at what the locals refer to as ‘Jeays St’.
He’d also noticed the centre had an overgrown garden. But long bouts of social isolation and a history of loneliness had him convinced that life was easier if he withdrew from public places. “I thought it was easier that way: less drama, less bad stuff happens, the less people are in your life.”
One morning, Chazz made a decision that changed things. He walked across the road to offer help in the garden. Soon enough he was volunteering weekly.
Since then, his social life has flourished. “I’m connecting with community and looking forward to my days,” he says. “I’ve got a lot more motivation and hope.” He’s now famous for his pesto toastie that he prepares with ingredients from the garden.