FROM THE CEO: Why our young people need us more than ever “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” - Martin Luther King, Jr. While easier said than done, the above quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. does state a universal truth. One of the hardest staircases to continually climb is our career path. While some blessed souls find their ‘calling’ early on, others mostly tend to discover it by trial and error – and often by taking the first step. Tour De Bay, for HBNC, wasn’t just another event we wanted to organise every year. It was a step towards building a Wide Bay that is known not just for its picturesque beaches but also for its generosity and willingness to care for each other. The money raised through this annual charity bike ride goes to our self-funded Youth Mentoring program. The Youth Mentoring Program makes a real difference in the lives of Fraser Coast school students (7-17 years old) who experience difficulty interacting, participating and contributing to the community in positive, constructive and respectful ways. Our Youth Garage program runs a free, weekly youth program for 12-18-year-olds to help them recognise and develop their strengths while engaging in fun activities. Here at HBNC, we are passionate about youth and we believe the young people of our region deserve as much of a chance to thrive in their community as anyone else. That’s why we established the Reconnect Youth Centre – our Youth Services Hub. One of the centre’s key programs, Our Voice runs a free 10-week course providing opportunities, training and employment pathways for youth to turn their lives around. This program has helped many participants secure employment in and around the Wide Bay region. Team members of our Reconnect program work with young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, to ensure they stay in a safe home environment. The overall aim of running these programs through the Reconnect Youth Centre is to help youth find their place in the community and help them hone their social and job skills. This is not easy, especially when some young people have to worry about their basic needs, such as a roof over their head. The latest Fraser Coast Youth Homelessness Survey shows this is simply not always the case. To create and support job opportunities and safe spaces for our young people, we need to ensure our young people are given platforms and relevant opportunities to help them contribute positively to our community. As mentioned in my previous articles, Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre, through our ‘Neighbourhood Collective’ approach and four community hubs, is inching closer every year to fulfil our long-term goals. Here are a few ways you can help us achieve our goals for the community. Support us by buying your tickets to our annual charity bike ride, the Tour De Bay, and enjoy an outdoor experience with your family cycling along the scenic Hervey Bay Esplanade in a fun and friendly atmosphere. You can also buy a ticket in our car raffle to combat local poverty in our region. Or, you can support our Bay’s Biggest Sleep Out initiative to raise funds to help local families doing it tough. You could also choose to share your valuable time, skills and knowledge to make a real difference in the lives of Fraser Coast school students by becoming a volunteer Youth Mentor. Our youth need us more than ever before, especially due to the challenges this pandemic has thrown their way. Your support could be the next step towards making real change in our community.