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Honouring John (Jacques) Duhau

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again,” Stephen Grellet.

 These words are bittersweet as we honour John Duhau, who quoted this often during his 40 years as a volunteer at Ozanam House.

 John passed away earlier this month and it is with great sadness, but overwhelming gratitude and honour that we share this post.

 John was an inspiration to everyone he met.

 “Of the forty years I have volunteered at Ozanam House, it has been a wonderful journey and amazing experience,” he said.

 I look forward to coming in each week and working with our friendly staff and volunteers of this charitable organisation and providing a service to those vulnerable people who are in desperate need of our support, love and care.”

 John was such a significant part of the life of Ozanam House. His contribution over many years demonstrated support, kindness, dignity and dedication to our clients. He was deeply respected and admired by staff, volunteers, clients and residents.

 He is sadly missed and his legacy lives on. RIP john. 

About John (Jacques) Duhau

John (Jacques) Duhau grew up in Mauritius and knew what it was like to have a tough life. His parents instilled in him to be charitable and as he watched them always looking after other people although they had 8 children of their own, which always inspired John.

John was part of the St Elizabeth St Vincent de Paul conference in Noble Park North when the Ozanam House Volunteer Coordinator Maree Brosnan put a call out for volunteers in 1980. John started attending with members of his conference along-side his wife Anne and daughter Francoise.

Each month – sometimes fortnightly, they would attend Ozanam House to assist with food preparation and serving lunch. These were in the days when there were dormitories in the House where there would be up to 200 men a night. During the day they would queue up for a meal and they would serve them. He did it for many years and enjoyed it very much assisting on a Saturday or Sunday depending on the roster.

The Vinnies Conference home visits that he also did was very different. Coming to Ozanam House in those days was a real eye opener. He was meeting so many people from different walks of life. It was a real privilege for John to give his time to a worthy cause.

John continued to volunteer with his wife Anne for 38 years on weekends at Ozanam House until Anne had to step back due to carer’s commitments.

15 years ago John retired from work and started volunteering by assisting with the catering team with food preparation and the meal service. He volunteered once sometimes twice a week and covered shifts when other volunteers took leave and holidays. He spent Christmas Day volunteering at Ozanam House and has done that for as long as he can remember. He watched as the House and the demographics of the clients change. When he first started the clients were mainly old men and mental health and drug addiction wasn’t as prevalent.

He enjoyed the interactions with the clients, the smiles, saying hello and asking how they are going. He felt very fortunate to be able to volunteer and assist our residents who are doing it tough. He got a satisfaction from the role that he said ‘no words can express.’

After 40 years, John looked back on his time at Ozanam House and the great bunch of people he has worked alongside of and the marvelous friendships that have been forged – particularly with the Tuesday team who will be forever engraved in his heart. 

He remarked how much VincentCare has progressed over the years. One of his highlights was the official opening of Ozanam House and how we are better able to support our clients with the new facility. He found the training sessions offered have assisted him to understand the client group more and helped him have more compassion and empathy and be less judgmental.

John is indebted to VincentCare who gave him an opportunity to work with people experiencing homelessness and marginalisation. He said that “we are a very rich nation and I feel it’s our duty that we live in a just world where everyone has a place to call home and food on the table.”

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