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The end of a period

Uniting Church in Australia

I know it’s usually the end of an era, but I don’t think eighteen months really classifies as an era. Today I finished at the Uniting Church in WA.

It’s odd  to think that in July last year, I was sitting in Soto, writing this post about how I had finally found a job. After six months of looking for work, and coming literally about a week away from going to K-Mart to do anything there, I found a job that really allowed me to embrace my passions.

Over my time there, I have really grown to love that job, and be proud of my achievements there, so much so that I want to share them with you. Continue reading The end of a period

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A-ha! So that’s the problem, now what’s the solution?

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Image via Wikipedia

Ever since the Uniting Church had their website re-done back in 2008, they have had an Activity search in the top right hand corner. And it works great… mostly. There was one big problem – sometimes it wouldn’t return results that should be there. For example, if you type in “greenwood” it would return that there were no Churches within 15km of Greenwood. Despite having a Greenwood Uniting Church in Greenwood. However, if you were to search “Kingsley” – the suburb directly north of Greenwood, it would return Greenwood Uniting Church as the closest church.

When I started at the Uniting Church, this was one of the problems I had noticed with the website. But I didn’t know what was causing the problem. Until one day, when talking about it with my manager, she said that if you typed the state as well, you got the correct result. A-ha! my mind went, so that’s what the problem was.

See, our activity search uses the Google maps API, and there’s more than one Greenwood in Australia. Likewise, there’s more than one Mount Pleasant. So what was happening was that the search would find the first Greenwood, which was invariably not in WA. But our users, coming to the website of the Uniting Church in Western Australia would assume that the activity search would search WA first. Having it search other states is completely useless to us, but there seemed to be no setting in the plugin that we were using to set it to only search WA.

Knowing that if you added “WA” to the end of the search it worked correctly, the simplest way I could think of to solve the issue was to append “, WA” to every search that didn’t end in “WA”. Now, while I work on the website, I’ve had no formal training. I taught myself HTML and CSS, and working with WordPress has taught me a bit of PHP, but in terms of coding something like this I needed to know JavaScript. I had a search around the internet to see if someone had a similar problem, or a solution that would work. I think my first effort ended up breaking the search completely. I talked to a friend who actually codes websites for a living, and he came up with some code that he thought would work, but wasn’t certain. It didn’t quite work, so I posted it in a forum and asked for help. They helped me out by pointing out the errors (needed a capital letter instead of a lowercase letter, and a ‘ instead of a “).

So now, if you search for “Greenwood” you will receive results for “Greenwood, WA” and find the details of the Greenwood Uniting Church. All I needed was for someone to discover why it was doing what it was doing, and my A-Ha moment came as to how to fix it.

Postaday2011 links

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Jane’s Story

Biblical Truth

Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! Then he spoke:

   You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
   God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
   You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
   Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.

   You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
   Joy comes with the morning.

Luke 6:20-21, The Message

Musical Offering

Ben’s Offering

Jane’s Story

Jane’s* father left when she was three years old.Years later her mother began seeing someone who Jane fought with all the time and at age 14 she was told to leave home. Jane stayed with some relatives for a while until an uncle tried to sexually abuse her, and no one in the family believed her when she told them what had happened. She dropped out of school and began ‘couch surfing’ from one friend’s house to another and met some new friends who introduced her to drugs and alcohol. For the next few years Jane moved between friends’ houses and hostels. Looking back, Jane sees that lots of people tried to help her but either they didn’t know how or she wouldn’t let them. When Jane arrived at YASS she smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol and had taken speed, ecstasy and marijuana. She had been sexually abused twice and was very distrusting of adults. For the first few weeks Jane “sussed out” the staff, looking for ways of affirming that adults were untrustworthy.

After a while she began to notice that the staff genuinely cared about the young people at YASS. They cared about her story and cared for her as an individual. The more of her story that Jane told the more staff were able to help her. With their help Jane stabilised her life and stopped taking drugs and smoking. She began to re-establish some family relationships and discovered that she had a whole other side of her family living in NSW, including a younger sister, who were very interested in meeting her.

Jane couldn’t afford the fare but YASS staff managed to get her a free flight through a corporate sponsor. They found her some temporary accommodation within an hour of where her family lived. Since then Jane has found long term accommodation, is studying full-time at TAFE and working part-time in a café. She volunteers at her local youth centre and wants to become a youth worker.

* Not her real name.

Homeless Young Australians: Issues and Responses, Mission Australia

Donate

UnitingCare Australia is an agency of the National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA). They represent the UCA’s network of UnitingCare community services of which there are over 1,300 service delivery sites nationwide.

The UnitingCare network is one of the largest providers of community services in Australia, providing services to more than 2 million Australians each year, employing 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers nationally. It provides services to older Australians, children, young people and families, Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, the poor and disadvantaged, people from culturally diverse backgrounds and older Australians in urban, rural and remote communities.

You can donate to any of the State Branches: in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and ACT, and Queensland (Donate to one of the service agencies)