For a while now, the Nambucca Youthie has lacked its usual vibrancy.
Funding cuts have necessitated cutbacks on staff, resources and programs.
But yesterday was a different story.
The dedicated volunteers who have kept the centre open knew that something needed to be done, so they initiated a grassroots movement to reinvigorate compassion for our young locals; a crowdfunding operation for community to invest in itself and its future was launched yesterday afternoon.
“The needs of the Valley centre around investing in young people,” Youthie board member Steve Montgomery said.
“I think it’s core economic development – we can’t just think of the here and now.”
Up to 100 Nambucca Valley residents showed up for the launch of the ‘We Give Two Hoots’ crowdfunding platform at the Youth Centre on Ridge St, Nambucca Heads.
Launch coordinator Toby Frost struggled to hold back his elation at the level of interest and support the community had shown.
“I was nervous about whether we’d have a good turnout, but this gives me hope for the future of the centre,” he said.
“We’re hoping to gather enough support from the community to keep the centre open, and to get some mental health workers and paid youth workers back.
“But the main thing is we just wanna see things happen for youth in the Valley, ‘cos there hasn’t been a lot happening.”
Toby said the big issues they come across and provide help for at the centre include youth homelessness and unemployment.
“But there are also a lot of kids out there with potential who are misguided and they need a little bit of a helping hand to get back on track, and that’s what we’re here to do,” he said.
“The initiative is an extension of the ‘buy local’ campaign – a lot of people spend aid money overseas where they can’t really track where their dollars are going. With ‘Two Hoots’ you can see the outcomes, you’ll be able to see your money at work in the community.”
The launch showcased presentations by ‘Pitch Your Project’ finalists Ash Johnson (Open Studio artist) and Joel Grimson (Joelism professional DJ).
Both artists submitted proposals for innovative youth projects to be unrolled in the next few months across the Valley.
Ash Johnson, who organised the November Reign street art project up in Coffs Harbour, is hoping to bring his many artistic talents to the Nambucca and create a similar collaborative street art project around the Valley with interested kids.
While Joel is keen to share his knowledge of the music business to help kids learn how to turn their hobby into a real career opportunity, through workshops on applying for gigs and grants, networking, setting up an online presence and other necessary business skills that he’s had to learn on the job.
Joel has also managed to secure a deck for Youthie kids to hook their digital audio samples into to have a go at electronic music production.
The diverse audience was treated to performances by the Youth Voice project singers led by Lea Gillard, and an incredible spread provided by the Nambucca Heads Uniting Church and Op Shop.
Welcome to Country was delivered by Gary Williams, CEO of Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative.
Representatives from the amazing Grow the Music initiative were also in attendance, in support of project activity they will be delivering with local young people in the coming months.
And the Uniting Church’s Graham Jones made a surprise donation from the church amounting to over $2000, which brought tears to a few volunteers’ eyes.
At the time of publishing an amazing $15,000 has already been raised through the crowdfunder.
“We would especially like to thank the Commonwealth Bank, Nambucca Heads and Valla Chamber of Commerce, the Uniting Church and Op Shop, Nambucca Heads Lions Club, Nambucca Heads Bowls Club, Nambucca Heads Nashos, Zeny’s House of Photography, Nambucca RSL, Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast, 2NVR, Nambucca Guardian and the Nambucca Valley community for your incredible support,” Steve said.
Toby is also hoping the wider community will jump on board to help spread the word about the campaign and what the centre is doing.
“A lot of people don’t have the $2 a week to spare that we’re asking for, but if they can help with word of mouth, then that’s worth more than $2,” he said.
For more details or to donate, visit: www.wegivetwohoots.org