Heathcote Men’s Shed on cusp of turning sod

By Vanessa Wiltshire

THE Heathcote Men’s Shed is on the cusp of turning its first sod. But do to so, members need extra pairs of hands.

More than 35 men — plus a group of curious and supportive women — gathered at Heathcote Health on Thursday, August 29 for an update on the shed project.

Over a snag or two, three members of the committee, president Orlando Talamo, build project manager Jim McKenzie McHarg and treasurer, secretary and public officer Daryl Wallace said the project was moving along successfully, though a little slower than expected. Each called for expressions of interest from the community to form an operating committee, working groups and support to help ongoing fundraising.

Heathcote Community House co-ordinator Vicki Forde said the Men’s Shed initiative obtained a $60,000 State Government grant in 2018, with the proviso that an additional $30,000 be provided through further donations and in-kind support.

“Through cash donations and in-kind support, including volunteer labour, we have been able to show that contribution — and more,” Ms Forde said.

“The Heathcote Community House contributed through paid and volunteer time. I am also a committee member.

“The Community House has contributed $1000 to help with the set-up cost for the group’s consumer affairs, insurance, post office box, catering and other incidentals. The machinery that was previously being used in the woodwork workshop has also been donated."

Cash donations have also come from Heathcote Lions ($4000), Heathcote and District Community Bank ($4500) and the Heathcote Post Office ($500).

Mr Talamo said the shed will be an important space for men to socialise and discuss their problems.

“When I came to Heathcote, I joined the woodworking group of the previous Men’s Shed. I had a lovely time, I did the work I wanted to do and became part of the Heathcote community.”

Mr McKenzie McHarg said the chosen site for the shed would be co-located with Heathcote Health.

“We are extremely grateful to Heathcote Health and CEO Dan Douglass,” he said.

“There is still a fair way to go, we have the resources to assemble the shed, but we need sewerage, water and power. But I’d say we’re well on the way.

"With the planning permit in place, we are now in the process of getting a building permit. I’m hopeful this isn’t far away.

“However, the cost of laying an engineered slab for a Men’s Shed is $30,000, which takes a fair chunk of the budget.”

Financial officer and member of the committee Daryl Wallace said plans have been drawn, including a code of conduct.

“The critical aspect is forming a group of volunteers who will take management of the shed once it’s built,” he said.

“It can take up to $13,000 to run a Men’s Shed each year. That’s why we’re reaching out now."

M Forde added: “The Heathcote and District Men's Shed will be an amazing asset for us all and we would like to see many people jump on board and roll up their sleeves for the fundraising and operational teams work now needed.”

Heathcote Men's Shed committee members: Orlando Talamo (president), Daryl Wallace (treasurer/secretary/public officer), Jim McKenzie McHarg (build project manager), Kevin Bell, Frank Dailey, Vicki Forde. Thank you to Ken Slatter for your contribution, it was greatly valued and you are missed.