Close to the base of the mountain we drive past a large green concrete water tank which is unsuccessfully camouflaged among the green scrubs on the side of the hill. The stretch of road eventually morphs into twists and turns which increases with intensity the higher the car approaches the peak. The deep concentration of ensuring the car hugs the narrow curves of the road, whilst negotiating cars travelling down the hill, is no easy feat. However, my effort is rewarded with a breathtaking scenic view of the city of Brisbane. Standing on top of Mt Gravatt Lookout you feel a sense of achievement even though you haven’t exerted any physical energy to arrive at the destination. Some more adventurous types have come to seek out the large cave complex located on a walking trail on the southern slope of the mountain.
For some the journey that has led them to the Mt Gravatt Lookout has been a long arduous trek with many valley experiences. Perched atop of the mountain is a cafe that does more than serve food and beverages. The cafe is a beacon on a hill, a light offering hope and a future for some of the staff that work here. The LoveWell Project cafe is a social enterprise attached to the Hope Foundation. The founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Hope Foundation and The LoveWell Project is former drug-addict and sex worker Bronwen Healy. Bronwen started the Hope Foundation in 2007 to help female drug addicts and sex workers transform their lives. She eventually opened Hope Haven, a drop-in space in Mt Gravatt for Hope Chicks (reformed drug and sex workers). In 2010 Bronwen had a dream to start a ‘profit for purpose’ cafe to provide a welcoming place of hopefulness for the Hope Chicks to gain employment skills and confidence to help give them a brighter future. In August 2015 that dream became a reality, albeit it took a year for it to be renovated to create the fun, cheery and welcoming cafe it is today.
When you walk into the cafe you immediately feel welcomed. The decor of rustic recycled tables and brightly coloured chairs of green, red, blue and yellow make it a cheerful and fun place to be. The cafe opens out onto a deck and the Brisbane city views and light breeze provide the perfect ambiance and backdrop to enjoy a great selection from the breakfast, lunch and beverage menu.
The LoveWell Project cafe is abuzz with diners by Sunday mid-morning. A flutter of diners coming and going against a backdrop of bird calls and a koala peeking out of the nearby tree acts as an umbrella for outside guests. When it comes time to order from the enticing descriptions on the menu, the choice becomes difficult with the fluttering visual displays of brightly garnished dishes quickly being transported to eager diners by the cheerful and friendly girls who work at The LoveWell Project. I eventually settle on the vegan waffles which consists of homemade waffles with creamy coconut labna (cream), banana crisps, tangy mixed berries and topped with pistachio Persian fairy floss. This was a mixture of tangy and sweet kisses to the taste-buds. My guest chooses the Bread of Life lamb burger with salad and beetroot puree which did not disappoint. The burger came with an encouraging message reminding you that food nourishes the body, but the spirit needs nourishing too.
One of the Hope Chicks who has found a purpose and a brighter future at the LoveWell Project is Hayley. She was a former drug addict for twenty years (Hayley started at the age of fourteen) until she found herself at Moonyah, a Salvation Army rehabilitation centre that provides residential programs for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. Hayley was desperate to turn her life around and started attending God’s Sports Arena (GSA) which is a sport-based church run by the Salvation Army. Hayley says that Bronwen Healy spoke at GSA and this connected her to the Hope Foundation.
‘I started attending the Haven drop-in space run by the Hope Foundation once or twice a week,’ she said. ‘I started developing a relationship with God.
‘I studied a Certificate III in Community Services whilst completing rehab and Bron offered me the job as Liaison Officer at The LoveWell Project. I completed my 400 hours of court-ordered hours of community service at the cafe which kept me out of jail. Eventually I ended up with paid work and a future here as the Liaison Officer.’
Hayley now supports and assist other women who are trying to turn their lives around by offering them support and the skills they need to be employed. Hayley says she puts her heart and soul into the LoveWell Project cafe because of what it has done in her life and she wants that for other women who have ended up in a world of drugs and pain.
‘Like a flowing river, I too can pass onto others the gift of life. Before coming to the Hope Foundation, I couldn’t read or write. Now I’m in the process of completing a Diploma of Community Services,’ she said.
The seed of hope planted in Hayley’s life is taking root and with a lot of hard work, persistence and support she is now starting to bear fruit and others are benefiting from her new life.
If you’re in the area, do yourself a favour and check out the LoveWell Project cafe at the Mt Gravatt Lookout on Shire Road. A ‘profit for purpose’ business nourishes the body and soul.