There's no such thing as a quiet day at Deloraine House.
A visit from Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese one day, a group of high school students donating goods from a food drive the next - there's never a dull moment for manager Debbie Smith.
Ms Smith has been at the house, which is the key support point for the Meander Valley area, for just shy of two years.
The house is also a big support for people across the Northern Midlands - as that municipality is without its own community house.
With multiple rooms, a food pantry, community garden, and project space - it's little surprise to see the house bustling.
The house stayed open during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, where it saw an increase in people seeking services, and different services to normal.
International workers stranded due to border closures relied on the house for meals and more weather appropriate clothing, while a laundry and shower facility were installed to help fill gaps left by closed services.
"At last count, we were up to about 21 people who are homeless just in the Meander Valley area," Ms Smith said.
"We went from having what we considered 15 regular users of the house to a bigger influx. Since the major crisis of the pandemic, people are still very very wary, people are very conservative.
"Nearly every day, every room in here is utilised by a group - whether it be service providers or a craft group, socialisation is something that become's important to people, especially on a smaller scale."
Ms Smith said incidents of mental ill-health had grown in the last year, attributed as a result of isolation.
"It's been really really hard for a lot of people," she said.
The house's community garden hailed as a "godsend" for those in the area, both as a boost for mental health and for food supply.
"We just took everything out of it and it's starting to come back now, we're putting new garden beds in now because we're seeing the increase and the need to extend what we're doing there," Ms Smith said.
Community Garden co-ordinator Tanya King has been working at the gardens for close to four years, and has been part of the turn-around of the area.
The garden sees regular visitors from volunteer groups.
"It's primarily food production here, with some ornamentals for bees and aesthetics - everyone loves a flower in bloom," she said.
"What we grow here is produce that is shared with the volunteers and used at Deloraine House - some of the food is used in community dinners, we use it for our food pantry so members of the community in need can access fresh food.
"We certainly don't ever have an oversupply, we seem to always be able to get through everything we grow.
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"It's a true community garden in the sense that the workload is shared, and so is the produce.
"We have that philosophy of give what you can and take what you need and it works really well."
One of the regular volunteers is Sue Tallon, who initially came to Deloraine House for assistance after moving from Far North Queensland.
"I needed some sheets and towels and extra things to use and they supplied them, and were just always there, asked if I needed anything and offered food and assistance," she said.
After getting herself settled in, she met a lady who came and volunteered at the garden, and decided to visit and help out.
Describing herself as "not much of a gardener", Ms Tallon found herself a niche - and is the "resident cleaner and tidier".
"I clean and tidy and pack the veggies and the fruit - just doing little odds and sods," she said.
"I'm the oldest - I get out of the hard work because I pull rank.
"The community feeling here is very welcoming, there's always an answer not a difficulty - very generous, wholesome and positive place to be because you're doing something worthwhile.
Another volunteer, Barry*, reached out to the house last year.
Travelling to Deloraine to be with his terminally ill father, he found himself stuck once his father passed away - without anywhere to live or friends in the area.
"He lives at the caravan park in his van, and will be here until after Christmas," Ms Smith said, sharing Barry's story.
"He's openly said that if it wasn't for the Deloraine House and the garden he doesn't know where he'd be now.
"We've supported him through his dad's death, and also supported him afterwards. He feels that without the support of the friends he's made here, he would have been even more impacted."
It's a real community feel in Deloraine - with everyone pitching in.
Deloraine High School students recently ran a food drive, inspired by project-based learning that looked at homelessness and what could be done to support people in the area.
The school had collection stations at local supermarkets for only a few weeks, with bags and boxes of items donated.
"It all came together, and the community were great in supporting and being involved," teacher Aaron Gilligan said.
"The kids liked that it was authentic, and they could see they were making a difference."
Last year, the house saw 15,000 people come to the house for support - this year they're expecting a higher amount, already seeing 10,000 people.
With five part-time staff, Ms Smith said the house relied heavily on volunteers and donations.
"We just need more," she said.
*name changed for privacy
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