The establishment of a new shed which will provide a "talking place" for local youth will become a reality with the announcement of a $25,000 grant from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal through its Strengthening Rural Communities program.
The Manning River Agricultural and Horticultural Society (MRAHS), responsible for running Taree Showground, was ecstatic to learn it is going to be the recipient of a grand under the program.
"It's absolutely fantastic to receive the news the other day that we'd won it," MRAHS president, Jane Davis said.
The grant application was submitted post-bushfires and COVID-19.
The society applied for the grant as they wish to build a new shed for activities and storage, with the aim of "building community connection and resilience through construction" as stated in the funding application.
"Prior to the floods the committee felt that the suicide rate for young kids up the north coast is horrific," Jane said.
"We want somewhere to organise activities for them and have a meeting place to have coffee, soft drinks, like a talking place, and try and get them involved with the society so they've got an interest."
"This is going to be wonderful, once we get everything organised," Jane said, adding that she was meeting with the "shed people" this week.
The news of the grant money is particularly welcome as the society has had a tough few months. It is perhaps less well known that while many homes and businesses were flooded, Taree Showground, too, was inundated and suffered serious damage.
"We were damaged catastrophically at the showground during the floods. We lost everything," Jane said.
We were damaged catastrophically at the showground during the floods. We lost everything.Jane Davis, president Manning River Agricultural and Horticultural Society
While none of the buildings were structurally damaged, everything inside the buildings, apart from the tea rooms, was destroyed.
"There's a couple (of buildings) we have to address but not substantial. It was basically all the contents.
"The dog club at the showground, all you could see was the roof. There were caravans lost. Everything was lost in the canteen - bain maries, six fridges, deep fryers, everything in the tool shed, lawnmowers..."
And all the books in the Rotary book shed had to be thrown out - "hundreds and hundreds", Jane said.
"We're starting to try and move forward, and this is going to assist us to move forward," Jane said of the grant money.
Other recipients of the FRRR grants were the Bobin School of Arts Hall who will receive $13,928 to assist in the second stage of the upgrade of the kitchen, and the Lansdowne Hall Reserve Trust who received $5107 for a ride on lawnmower to "reduce volunteer fatigue and increase preparedness for bushfires".
The current round of Strengthening Rural Communities grants is accepting applications until August 24, 2021. More information is available at www.frrr.org.au.
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