Debbie Holmes can see the funny side. But via her independent charity the Avalon Centre she is on a serious mission to tackle the homelessness crisis and is calling on the public to help, The Age reports.
To borrow a phrase from another Holmes – Sherlock – to her it’s elementary: she believes we must provide “housing first” to make progress.
And she is leading by example. In January Ms Holmes and a fellow philanthropist, who wishes to remain anonymous, bought a $500,000, four-bedroom house in Narre Warren to kickstart Avalon’s Homes For the Homeless program.
More than 40 volunteers from the Avalon Centre, Men’s Sheds and Rotary painted and furnished the house with donated beds, couches, TV and prints, and installed a shed and playground equipment.
In May, Ms Holmes donated a further $200,000 to buy a second property: a one-bedroom flat in Dandenong now rented by a single woman in crisis and her teenage daughter.
Her late father Bill Holmes owned a building society and left her with an inheritance, a nest egg she grew with some smart property investments.
Since the late 1980s, Avalon, which is not aligned with any church or wider charity, has been Ms Holmes’ life. The charity, which runs day trips and has created and funded a drop-in centre for the disabled and socially isolated, is run from her sprawling East Malvern home.
Ms Holmes and her volunteers head out in a van several days a week to distribute donated clothing and bedding to the homeless across Melbourne.
Last year, Tanya Holmes and her family were living in a car.
She now rents the Narre Warren home from Avalon and says Debbie Holmes’ generosity has transformed her life and her children’s lives too.