Meander Valley Gazette

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Making a home for social justice

Community, EventsJoanne Eisemann
From left, Kristina Nicklason, Jai Homer and Krissy Bak, in front of Deloraine House, the hub of generous community service and activity.  Photo by Mike Moores

From left, Kristina Nicklason, Jai Homer and Krissy Bak, in front of Deloraine House, the hub of generous community service and activity.

Photo by Mike Moores

Over the years, there has been a lot more going on here than just a new coat of paint and renovations. It’s the heart and soul of the place that matters.  Photo supplied

Over the years, there has been a lot more going on here than just a new coat of paint and renovations. It’s the heart and soul of the place that matters.

Photo supplied

Deloraine House celebrates 30 years of community service

By Hayley Manning

HURRAH!

Deloraine House Inc. invites you to catch-up with past and present friends at their 30 year anniversary celebration on Saturday 31 August.

But it is more than a celebration – it is also a salute to the trailblazing community members who had the foresight to open a neighbourhood house and the courage to keep it going in the face of adversity.

The House was borne out of a lack of social services in the Deloraine Municipality, according to former Deloraine Councillor, Jan Blakeney, who reported there were people ‘doing it tough’.

Minimal government funding was available for upgrading resources in an area that had few opportunities in employment, education and training.

A member of ‘Wacky Walkers’ during the 1980s, Elaine Baldwin, remembers it wasn’t easy to try to start something like a community house in the early days.

‘People would say to me, ‘‘Oh the hippy house. Going to the hippy house are you?” Anyway, we got the “hippy house” up and running and I think now it is the most important thing in our town.’

Deloraine House was purchased in 1989 for around $60,000, through generous community donations and low-interest loans.

In the beginning, the community- owned House relied totally on volunteers until some funding for a family support worker was assigned. The first Coordinator, Kaye Williams was appointed in 1992 and funded for just 10 hours a week.

She was followed by Karan Jurs, then Polly Fowler, the longest serving Coordinator to date, with 13 years service.

‘Today there are five part time funded positions and numerous wonderful volunteers who we couldn’t function without,’ Acting Manager Kristina Nicklason said.

‘Deloraine House has evolved with the needs of the community. At first it was the base for the local environment group, The Deloraine Environment Centre.

‘The other focus was family support. It later added childcare, youth, health services and counselling and has continued according to the input of the people who have accessed it.

‘Today, activities are community development orientated – courses, food preserving and distribution, community gardens, regular group meetings and visiting services,’ said Kristina.

The festivities at the House on Saturday 31 August, from 11am–2pm, will appeal to everyone: music, face painting and PCYC Circus Trailer for the children, informative displays, photos and more.

Deloraine Lions Club will be present, cooking burgers, sausages and making sandwiches. Harvest Helpers are providing apple juice and pumpkins for soup and apple turnovers from the local glut. House volunteers are making soup, a cake and more.

All food and drink will be free. For catering purposes please RSVP Deloraine House. Phone: 03 6362 2678

A Thirty Years Panel will feature special guests: Julie Roach and Sue Chaston, past staff, house users and volunteers sharing brief snippets about their roles at the House and their vision for its future.

A commemorative artwork, by local artist Niecy Brown, will be unveiled.

For visitors who have travelled far and locals alike, Deloraine Deli is hosting an informal buffet-style dinner in the evening, 6–9pm. Bookings and prepayment of $35 per head are essential. Please phone the Deli on 03 6362 2127.