Huge growth in social need

By UTE SCHULENBERG

IF MOIRA Ryan had one wish in her role as a long-serving volunteer for the Nambucca Valley Neighbourhood Centre (NVNC), it would be that the Centre was no longer needed.

Well, not in its present form anyway.

"It would be really nice if the centre could be a place for meetings and craft groups rather than filling urgent community needs like homelessness," Moira said.

Moira has been a volunteer with the NVNC since it began 15 years ago and admits she has seen enormous growth in social need during that time.

"In spite of the Mid North Coast being such a beautiful place, it seems to have missed out on some luck," she said.

"There are high levels of social disadvantage here and I think groups like the unemployed and single mums are becoming more disadvantaged."

Apart from the NVNC, Moira is a volunteer on five other community committees, as well as being the (paid) manager of Macksville's Home Care branch.

"I guess the old adage of 'ask a busy person' applies to me," she said. "It is very hard to get people to go on committees these days. The statutory requirements are so onerous."

She says she has always been involved with the community in different ways ? from various sports clubs when her children were growing up to now with other community groups.

"I've always helped in different ways," she said.

"When we were growing up, we helped through the church, also my Dad was a councillor on North Sydney Council."

In spite of all her commitments, Moira says her life is balanced.

"The beach, walking and bird-watching are what I enjoy ? I also like going on holidays somewhere else, because you realise how lovely it is here."

Moira was recently honoured by the NVNC for her 15 years of service, when it celebrated its 15 years of existence.

Co-ordinator Jo Hill said Moira is passionate about the community, seeing government money spent properly and the environment. Moira has many stories about the NVNC.

One of her favourite memories is when the workers used to go on their 'feral welfare workers weekends'.

"All our workers were women and we had these great girls' weekends away."

And her finest achievement?

"Finding this house (NVNC premises in Macksville) for rent and taking the leap of faith to get it," Moira said.

"We needed a place of our own because our users like a discreet location.

"Coming to this old house, it is not obvious anyone is coming for help."

Any other wishes?

"Yes ? I'd like a rich sugar mummy who could give us $1million for purpose built premises that are bigger, safer and more homely."



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