It feels like we’ve barely recovered from Awesome February, but here we are charging into March. Yesterday the clouds couldn’t keep us from fun, food, booze and fascinating ideas. MoneyPenny graciously hosted us, and we enjoyed the ambiance of the Honeysuckle boardwalk with views of our harbour.
This month along with our lovely regular board members we welcomed first time guest board member Suzie Galwey from Hudson Street Hum. We were happy to have three returning guest board members: Grant Long from Long Legal, Amy Beckett from Newcastle Networking Group and Anne Long from Greater Bank.
We had an impressive selection of finalists tonight, interestingly all three working in the broad spectrum of health. We welcomed Alan Johnson from Arts in Recovery, Susan Ryan from Uukoo and Nerida Bint from Lissome. Alan went first. He’s an occupational therapist at Morisset Hospital using creativity as much as possible in his daily practice. He told us about Arts In Recovery (AIR), a program aiming to engage people experiencing mental illness in the Hunter. AIR supports the creative engagement of people in the arts as a pathway to recovering and maintaining mental well being. Formed in October 2011, AIR has run art workshops at Newcastle Art Space, with over 50 people attending these workshops each month. The program is free for people to attend; all art materials and education are provided at no cost to participants. He would use the grant money to help pay for venues and to continue the monthly workshop and running an annual exhibition.Next up we welcomed Susan. She’s been a dementia carer for 15 years, and she told us about her own personal struggle and journey with her parents’ Alzheimer’s Disease. The dementia app she’s creating with her husband is designed to reduce isolation for people living with dementia. It supplements face-to-face visits and allows families to collaborate and to share the care of their loved ones. Her app is called Uukoo, and it allows people to have repeated positive interactions with their families and carers in order to create joy and increase mood. She would use the money to keep Uukoo’s momentum going and to help pay for a stall at an upcoming show as they promote the app and work get paying customers.
And last up was Nerida from Lissome! Nerida is the sole business owner of Newcastle’s first female only gym (Lissome). She told us how mental health and eating disorders are becoming an epidemic in today’s society – affecting our young women particularly with the rise of social media. She wants to pair young girls at her gym with strong, fit women who they can look up to. She would use the money to bring in outside professionals in mental health, nutrition and also sports celebrities, all who model similar values and ideals. She told us that the program is set up to make sure that there is funding for girls from all socioeconomic backgrounds, so everyone can participate.It was clearly going to be a tough decision. The finalists chatted and got to know one another while the judges debated and discussed.
It was a close call, but as is always the case, a decision was eventually reached. We invited guest board member Anne Long to come up and give away the money. She joked this is something she’s good at, working at a bank.Anne passed the one thousand dollars to Susan. Susan shared a few more stories and said thank you, and our host reminded everyone that applications never expire. (There’s a good chance we’ll see our other finalists again.)
We took some happy photos as the sun went down over the ocean.
Thanks to our generous board members, our creative applicants and our kind host MoneyPenny; the evening was perfect! Ideas and community are growing in this little town, and 2019 is looking incredible.