When a donor offered to fund a new kitchen for the Beachlands Memorial Hall, users benefited, but vulnerable people also got a leg up.
Administered by the Beachland Community Trust, manager Jenny Carter says the $30,000 donation transformed the hall by turning a rundown space into a hi-spec kitchen that makes using the hall a more attractive option.
It was a case of out with the old and in with the new, as trust volunteer Robyn Daniel made use of the expertise of local electrician Lewis Taitua.
"It’s driven hall usage up, but it’s also provided some struggling people with the chance to come together and start little businesses and find a sense of purpose," Jenny says.
"Kitchens are all about recipes and this one is part of a recipe for engaging people in our community and being able to help and meet social needs."
Next up is partnering with Duke of Edinburgh Award participants, who will use the hall and its new kitchen to learn café and hospitality skills.
"It will be great because our young people can learn job skills, gain self-confidence and be ready for work opportunities," Jenny says.
New Zealand whiteware manufacturer Fisher and Paykel also supported the upgrade project, making the donated dollars go further.
"Our donors probably think they just funded a kitchen, but to us it is much more, it’s a means of reaching out and engaging, of helping more people, of bringing the community together."
Franklin Local Board member Malcolm Bell often attends the trust’s community lunches.
"It‘s wonderful to see so many people coming together, some to eat, some to help and some just for the company and sense of community."
Fellow board member Amanda Hopkins is a fan of the trust’s work.
"What this trust has achieved through its programmes and initiatives proves the decision to hand control of halls back to communities was the right one.
"We are seeing hall usage grow, there are more people coming together to help others and the place has been transformed into a thriving community centre."
Donations flood the hall, from gardeners with too much fruit and veg to use on their own, from young people keen to join Kidz First Children’s Hospital Jammies in June, and from individuals keen to see their quality unwanted clothes recycled.
Malcolm knows all about that, regularly loading his own vehicle and transporting the overflow of goods to Pukekohe, where his board colleague Sharlene Druyven transfers them to her car to take them to Waiuku for families in need.
"The thing about this job is that you meet fantastic people who do so many little things to help you. It’s like being reminded every day that there is goodness all around," says Jenny.
"There’s a lot of it in Beachlands."
The trust was set up in 2013 to connect the community. An independent charity, it works closely with the local board and Auckland Council and Jenny says all are welcome to help. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org.