If you’re passing through the Central Coast Highway at Erina you will be pressed not to notice a growing Men’s Shed initiative being developed on the grounds alongside the Erina Community Baptist Church. The Erina Men’s Shed successfully applied to BaptistCare for a Connect Grant in 2014, a contribution used to construct a much needed awning on the side of the shed which provides shelter from the heat in summer and the rain year-round.
The Erina Men’s Shed is now onto stage 2 of the project which has witnessed the sourcing of over $40,000 in state and federal grants. The grants will be used to develop an adjoining shed to house the growing number of men making use of the group now operating on Thursday’s and Friday’s.
There are currently thirty financial members connected to the Erina Men’s Shed, with around 75% of these men coming from beyond the local Church. The men are supported by a Chaplain nominated from within the Church with three of the members sharing openly that, “the shed has become a very important part of their life and is helping them to cope.”
Gary from the Erina Men’s Shed explained how the program is really a two way connection with the community: people bring in unusual projects for the men to work on and the men enjoy the opportunity to use their skills to help people in the community. These projects include the restoration of furniture holding precious memories of a loved one. “Often the family don’t know where to take these treasures to get them fixed so they bring it to the Men’s Shed to let our guys have a go.”
One member who has found great encouragement through the Erina Men’s Shed is Bob (on the left). Bob is a retired engineer and bus driver who now lives on his own in his caravan. The Men’s Shed provides Bob with the workshop space he used to enjoy as he no longer has a garage to store any tools or equipment. He particularly enjoys making jigsaw puzzles to give away when he comes across a need in the community.
Bob has been attending the Men’s Shed since it opened and shared how the guys were really welcoming right from the first day. He points out that, “places like this are very important, places where they accept you for who you are. The Shed has helped me come out of myself and to start talking more again.”
Bob’s smile widens as he proudly explains how, “some people come here just to chat; the good thing is you don’t necessarily need a project.” Over morning tea the men joke and laugh together as they recall stories from their past travel and adventures. The Erina Community Baptist Church has recently endorsed a 10 year strategy that will see the Men’s Shed continue to reach men in the community who appreciate the company as well as having a place to tinker with projects.
The Erina Men’s Shed is just one of three projects supported by BaptistCare in 2014-15. Connect Grants were also provided to New Hope Baptist Church at Kellyville to support the Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) program, and to Wellington Baptist Church in support of Indigenous Community Outreach through the Alpha for the Mob course.
BaptistCare appreciates the many Church partnerships developed over this past year and we look forward to continuing in mission together in areas of mutual benefit and common focus.