Last Wednesday night as everyone started to gather at the Criterion Hotel for Awesome Newcastle we had an unfortunate late scratching. One of our excited finalists couldn’t make it in time to pitch for $1,000 cash. Luckily had a guest board member who was keen to pitch, so Caroline de Vries of The Base, agreed to step up.
This month’s other guest board members were first-timers Daniel Smith from TUNRA, Frances Burns from Engineroom Design and returning guest James White from NCS. As always, we were treated to an energised room of incredible local folk, just itching to hear some awesome ideas.
The first finalist of the evening was Peter with Solidarity House. When Peter walked in the room, a few board members remembered that he was a finalist about a year ago! They were excited to have him back and hear how his plan had progressed. Peter is designing a sustainable, self-sufficient granny flat to go in the back of existing residential blocks, to help house Australia’s homeless population. With women over 50 the fastest growing demographic of homeless in this country, Peter sees this as a potential solution for a problem that is only increasing. He wanted funds to help establish the non-profit certification of the organisation that would build and manage the homes.
The second finalist was Alice from Alice’s Kitchen. A self-taught home baker, Alice recently ran a series of cupcake decorating workshops for women and saw the impact it made on these women where they could be creative, learn a new skill and socialise with other women. She worked out that with $1,000 she could teach these skills to about 40 women, and would like to offer the class to women living at local shelters and doing it tough.
Our final, last-minute fill-in finalist, Caroline, started by saying “I don’t want the money, I just want the opportunity to tell you about The Base.”
The Base is primarily a co-working space for mental health professionals, but with ample shared space, Caroline is hoping it can become a place to build community. She talked about the need for wider society to assist with mental health and that ideally in the future a membership at The Base could result in discounts at other services that support wellbeing, such as gyms, art classes or even horse riding.
The finalists stepped outside while the Board deliberated. The new faces were excited by the talent and innovation happening right here in Newcastle.
Finally it was time to award the winner of July’s Awesome Newcastle. Dan Smith stood and presented the cash to Alice for her cupcake decorating idea!
It ended up being a fantastic evening and we all left with a little extra pep in our step knowing there is no shortage of Awesome going on in the community.