Narooma Men’s Shed – the story so far
The Men’s Shed concept was first experimented with at the Goolwa Heritage Club Shed in 1993.
1998 saw the Lane Cove (NSW) and Tongala Mens Shed (Vic) opened. In 2005 there were 100 Mens Sheds operating in Australia and another 1000 operating overseas (particularly England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Canada, Denmark, Poland, Kenya and USA.
The Narooma Men’s Shed began in early 2011, as a project of the Narooma Lions Club, three members began the search for a site for a Mens Shed in Narooma.
The search was to take nearly 2 years before the current site in Glasshouse Rocks Road was made available by the Macauley family.
How easy is it to brush away 2 years. In that time numerous sites were assessed for suitability. The good neighbour principle was applied. Could we operate there and not be a pain for the neighbours. We had some help along the way. Narooma News, and particularly Stan Gorton helped keep the search alive, Lindsay Brown did a lot of site scouting for us. Council offered community transport by the to take Mens Shed participants to the woodworkers at Bodalla or the Mens Shed at Wallaga Lake and the response was that Narooma needed a community activity to be near the center of town so we were accessible not just to participating men but to the public more broadly.
In January 2013 the first meeting of the Narooma Mens Shed saw Brian Craven elected President. Some of the first members were Boy Lucas, Harry Hammond, John Glover, Wally Warboys, Rob Atkinson, Phil Stokes, Greg Keegan and Geoff Broadfoot.
The primary aim accepted was “Providing a place for men where they can continue to use their skills or develop new skills in companionship with other men, for the benefit of the community”
Our first treasurer was Carole Miendl assisted by Elizabeth Craven.
The first years were hard graft. Our weekly costs (rates and electricity) were approximately $150. Member’s fees were $5 a week plus a yearly membership fee which primarily paid our insurance costs. We ran garage sales on a regular basis. These were supported strongly by the Narooma community, both as donors and buyers. Cheryl Lucas, Elizabeth Craven and Carol Meindl provided major assistance with the garage sales. We also received donations of tools, services equipment and timber from local businesses. Some of these early supporters were Paul from Truss Plus, Ken Lattimer from Narooma Tilt Tray, Rod Patmore from Narooma Plumbing and electrical support from Peter McCulloch and Paul White.
Six years later what have we done. We have 50 plus members.
We have a track record of picking up an extraordinary range of work.
We are the go to place for a number of community organisations. We have done work for the High and Primary Schools, the Kindergarten, Animal Welfare League, SoArt, MACS, RSL, Narooma Choir, Anglican Church, IRT, ESTIA, WIRES
We do a wide variety of work for the public. We have made homes for possums, birds and micro bats. Repaired wooden toys, made music sticks and small coolamons, rebuilt furniture. A general principle is that we do not do work that would impinge on a business in Narooma.
To raise money and also for skills development, we make small wooden cars and planes. We make puzzle boxes and toaster tongs. We developed the concept of the Narooma Christmas Whale. While these are hired by businesses we have also sold a number to private householders. We knew we were on to something really good when Easts Caravan Park told us of the bus load of visitors stopped so the passengers could be photographed in front of the Narooma Christmas whale. So while the Christmas Whales are a fund raiser for the shed they are also a unique to Narooma.
We have run cooking programs where meals have either been cooked by members or by Chefs from businesses in town with member’s assistance. We have always opened on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Recently we have been opening on the Wednesday which is more of a quiet work and social day. It has recently included guitar lessons and card games have been discussed.
The one achievement we tend to gloss over, we are men after all and we are poor at communicating feelings stuff, is the communication and comradeship of members. Much of the work is done collaboratively, and with so many in a small area the sharing of machinery and equipment often necessitates “chat time” while waiting. As it would be in a good workplace people make an effort to get on with others.
Professor John McDonald is the Patron of the Australian Mens Shed Association. He recently reported that the impact of belonging to a shed was the improvement in men’s health. One measurement in a study was the level of the stress hormone, cortisol: and it did drop. Men were less stressed and it was measured scientifically.
We are now starting to be constrained by the site and current infrastructure. We have been told we will lose access to our current meeting and lunch room when our lease ends in early October.
The good news is that recently we signed an agreement to lease two Roads and Marine Services blocks of land adjacent to the Scout Hall. This land and the buildings we will put on them will provide us with a firm footing for the future. Wal Sheehan and Bernie Perrett are two of the members that have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this happen.
Where will the Shed go from here. This will depend on the members. We expect that the shed will become more than a Mens Shed and will be a resource for the wider community. If a member comes in with skills to share with others such as stained glass or yeast cooking members may run with it. Our choices are really wide open.