At the March Management Committee meeting 2013, Ally de Pree Raghavan (Glebe Community Development Project) and Kate Brennan (Glebe Schools Community Centre) presented a proposal for grant application assistance from volunteer Glebe Society members to act as ambassadors. Three members took up the option to assist. Here is a story from one member, Geraldine Barnes.

I was unsure of what to expect after an encounter on Glebe Point Rd 12 months ago with Jan Wilson, who told me about the Glebe Society’s new Ambassador Program. Would I, she asked, be interested in turning a lifetime of applying for research grants to ambassadorial use for the Society on behalf of the Glebe Schools Community Centre? Any doubts I might have had about my eager acceptance of the role were put to rest at my first meeting with the Centre’s dynamic and resourceful Facilitator, Kate Brennan, who briefed me on its wide range of initiatives to support and develop educational capacity, cultural awareness, and life skills in young children in the Glebe area. Funding opportunities are limited, and the capacity of Kate and her team to mount a successful program package of this scope is extraordinarily impressive.

In the forefront of the Centre’s programs is the Glebe Kidz Club, a Monday afternoon group which meets the need for affordable after-school activities for children in the Glebe area. The Club was launched in 2011 with an $8000 Matching Grant from the City of Sydney and enjoys free use of the St John’s Centre and some staffing assistance by the St John’s Aboriginal youth worker. Mothers provide the Kidz Club afternoon tea on a rostered basis – fresh fruit, nutritious sandwiches, and sugar-free fruit juice – and Club members participate in workshops and activities ranging from arts and crafts to digital skills, indoor/outdoor games, and local excursions.

A couple of visits to the Kidz Clubshowed me just how it could be done, with a modest budget and pitching in by parents and volunteers. Parents I spoke to, who come from a diversity of backgrounds, commented on how its relaxed and undemanding structure particularly benefits children with learning and social difficulties by the opportunity to interact with their peers in a more comfortable ‘out of school’ environment.

A just announced grant from ClubsNSW, along with support from the Glebe Public School and St. James Primary, will keep the local school bus running for another year. This service is essential for children in the Glebe Estate and surrounding areas whose families have difficulty in getting their kids to school. It also makes it possible for them to arrive in time to take advantage of Centipede’s Good Start Breakfast Club, onsite at the Glebe Public School, and to begin the school day with the necessary energy to focus on learning.

Proposals currently on the funding wish list include a junior version of the Redfern Gamarada (‘Comrades’ in the Gadigal language) Men’s Self-Growth Program and bus driver training for Community Centre staff.

My introduction to the work of the Glebe Schools Community Centre over this last year has been a wonderful process of learning about and understanding the needs of local children and how community collaboration, cooperation — and the ongoing challenge of successfully matching project applications with the most appropriate funding sources can help to fulfil them. As Kate Brennan recently commented to me, ‘the strength of the Ambassador program is its ability to be long term as the ambassadors learn more about the services and are able to more succinctly articulate the needs of the community and good fit of programs.’