PICTURE PERFECT: Greg Martin travels from Coraki to attend the weekly art classes at the Casino Community Men's Shed.
PICTURE PERFECT: Greg Martin travels from Coraki to attend the weekly art classes at the Casino Community Men's Shed. Jamie Brown

Casino Men’s Shed thriving for the community’s benefit

  • $160,000 NSW state grant to build American bar-style shed
  • $12,000 NSW state grant to install a solar supply
  • $25,000 from volunteer efforts
  • $3,000 from Richmond Valley Council to bring total to $200,000

CASINO Community Men's Shed is embracing change and expects the first sod turned for its new workshop to happen early in the new year.

One year ago the incorporated body received a $160,000 NSW state grant to help build the new American barn-style shed on the Casino Show Society's grounds.

Only last week Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis added to that generous fund by announcing a further $12,000 to install a solar supply - using local contractors Nickel Energy.

Shed president Dean Box said of the money raised so far, $25,000 had materialised from volunteer efforts by the Men's Shed members themselves.

"We had to turn a few sausages, I can tell you," he said.

Secretary Charlie Cox said the Richmond Valley Council had come to the party to bring the total available to $200,000.

Vibrant group of men

The keen group has been going since 2010, first meeting at Windara before moving into the showground pavilion in 2012, following a special arrangement with the showground trust.

To date there are 70 active members meeting three times each week, and on any given Monday you can expect to see half of them at work, eagerly tinkering away on a variety of mostly timber projects.

Part of Monday's appeal is the monster morning tea, in part sponsored by Country Crumbs Bakery which donates bread and cakes.

Recycling projects

In keeping with the modern way much recycling goes on, timber pallets are broken up to be used in furniture, boxes and plant stands. The new solar power will only enhance that ethic.

Through generous sponsorship from places like the RSM Club and the group's own extensive fundraising, the shed has been able to buy a zero-turn mower to maintain the grounds around the pavilion and the organisation has bought its own van to transport materials and products.

While timber tools abound in the shed, there are also facilities for welding and, when the new 20x30m barn is built, there will be a bench for lapidary work.

Along with joinery there is an artist troupe that meets every week with Kyogle teacher Ruth Riordan offering words of wisdom and a practised eye.

Learning from each other

Vice-president Don Simpkins said: "We all learn from each other. There are a lot of tradies here and the rest of us can pick up skills by just being around them."

Mr Cox said the shed had a great influence on men's health, with companionship and interaction keeping depression at bay.

"We've actually had a few local doctors prescribe a visit to the Men's Shed for some of their patients," he said. "It's an opportunity to interact with men in the community.

"It really is a great atmosphere.

"Men's sheds are recognised Australia-wide for keeping people out of the surgery and they save a lot of money that otherwise would be spent on the health system.

"For every dollar given to us, we multiply it," Mr Cox said.

"Whether it's for DIY projects with kids or a visit to an aged care hostel for a talk or a barbecue, we are always looking at new opportunities to give back to the community."



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