It was a rainy start to a strange but stellar Awesome Newcastle at the Criterion last night in Carrington. We were down a few board members (and hundred bucks).* We had a finalist bail at the last minute, but we are grassroots group and we persevere regardless.
We welcomed one wonderful guest board member to Awesome Newcastle last night, Tricia Martin of the Virtual Intern. Tricia was actually an Awesome Newcastle finalist for us back in 2021, so we were stoked to bring her back again!
Two finalists joined us for the evening, Jon Boyd of Hunter Helpers and Matthew Ortiger of Soul Cafe.
Matthew went first. He told us he was the General Manager of Soul Cafe in Newcastle and explained how Soul Cafe operates. Soul Café was set up in Newcastle in 2003 to serve the needs of the poor, needy and vulnerable. While they feed a lot of guests in their cafe, they’re also committed to being ‘more than a meal’ and deliver a wide range of help and support to everyone that comes in. He said that while it wasn’t flashy or dazzling, they would use the money to help with the basic everyday operations to keep the cafe up and running.
Jon went next. He told us he’d worked in the disability sector for eight years and from his experience he’d like to create a not-for-profit organisation called Hunter Helpers to connect people with different skills. Its aim would be to provide an easy and safe way for people in the Hunter region to connect and help each other to overcome adversity, increase their independence or improve their quality of life. He would use the money for legal fees to establish the business as a not-for-profit.
Because we only had two finalists this time, we gave them both a bit more time to share their idea and ask them questions. Then the board got down to the business of making a difference. The board discussed and debated and then voted. We brought Tricia to the front to award the money. She passed the cash along to Matthew! Congratulations Matthew, we are excited to see how Soul Cafe progresses as it grows, and we’re happy to be along for part of the ride.
Thanks again to both of you for presenting!
We’d like to remind Jon (and all other finalists who have applied throughout the year) that applications never expire, and actually in November we’ll be having an event at the Criterion Hotel that’s open to the public where we bring back favourite finalists from throughout the year, how exciting!
Keep an eye on our socials for more updates about this, and hopefully we’ll see you all at November’s Awesome Newcastle!
*Update: After November’s Awesome Newcastle we were actually OVER by $200, so we were actually able to pay Soul Cafe the full $1000 eventually. Here’s our host Alex dropping off the cash!