Last night we were thrilled to get together for another Awesome Newcastle at the Criterion Hotel in Carrington. A few board members were sadly out with Covid, but we had some new faces on the night, which was wonderful! We all chatted and had some cheery beers.
We welcomed several first time guest board members last night, Lydia Blakemore of Pitcher Partners, Linda Apostolidis of Newy Tech People and Simon McCarthy from the Newcastle Herald. We were happy to have returning board members: marketing consultant Lauren Devine and Lou Kipa and Brooke Stevenson of Persona Communications.
We also welcomed Teegan Diamond as a volunteer and sit-in board member (as we didn’t quite have all ten members at the table). Teegan took the photos you see in this blog post, thank you Teegan!
We mingled and sipped and then jumped into pitches. Our finalists this evening were Gayle Farthing of Audio Books for Aged Care Residents, Michelle Faithful with a concert for the Afghan Community and Paul Westcott with Sustainable Kids.
Gayle went first. She explained that as a part of her job, she goes to Aged Care facilities. During the pandemic she felt heartbroken to see people locked in their rooms, many of whom had low to no vision and often sadly many of them can no longer read. She explained that Vision Australia has audio players with speakers or headphones. They cost $75 each, and access to their library contains thousands of books, podcasts, magazines and newspapers. She would love to use the money to buy 14 devices and deliver them to local aged care facilities. She thinks this would enrich the lives of the elderly, many who’ve been tortured during this terrible time.
Michelle went next. Previously awarded Newcastle Citizen of the Year, she’s a passionate fundraiser, events organiser and volunteer. She’s organising a concert for Afghan Refugees in the Newcastle Community with musician Fred Smith. She hopes to welcome recent evacuees from Afghanistan and migrants who have been here for some time, and generally offer a gesture of support to the Afghan community in Newcastle. The event will be at the Gallipoli Legion Club in Hamilton on the 27th of August. She would use the Awesome money to help fund the event, and anything leftover would go to refugee-supporting organisations.
Paul was our final finalist. He’s an early childhood teacher and a qualified horticulturalists. He works at the Early Learning Centre in Newcastle, and he wants to grow and develop their aquaponics garden which will supply the centre with sustainable and organic fruits, vegetable and seafood. Also as a benefit, kids will learn where their food comes from. They’ll build the garden out of recycled material, and he would use the money to construct the growing beds and fish tanks, pumps, and solar power systems.
The board had a tough job in front of them and took their time reaching at a decision.
Afterwards invited Lydia to the front to pass the cash along to Gayle! Congratulations Gayle. We love the way you’re brightening the lives of people who have suffered a lot the last two years.
We thanked everyone for coming out, and we reminded applicants all that applications never expire, so there’s a chance we might see you again at another Awesome Newcastle.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you in May! If you’d like to get involved with Awesome Newcastle, apply via this website for a grant, or apply to be a board member.