SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY: Jenny Dowell hands over the ceremonial key to Lismore Neighbourhood Centre CEO Jenni Beetson-Mortimer.
SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY: Jenny Dowell hands over the ceremonial key to Lismore Neighbourhood Centre CEO Jenni Beetson-Mortimer. Andy Parks

Lismore Neighbourhood Centre buys its building from council

HANDING over a ceremonial key to the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre building was a symbolic moment for Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell.

She recounted a story from when she was a volunteer at the old Neighbourhood Centre in McKenzie St.

"I remember hanging a sheet outside that rickety old building, demanding that council find us a proper home," she said.

The Neighbourhood Centre has been in their current building opposite City Hall for 10 years and involved in a lengthy process to buy it from council since 2010.

They have been through an expression of interest and a formal tendering process and according to CEO Jenni Beetson-Mortimer, a lot of nervous nights before getting to this day.

"Things take longer in council than we would like, but we got there," Mayor Dowell said.

"This cements Lismore Neighbourhood Centre's role in Lismore in the knowledge that this is your place."

Ms Beetson-Mortimer said buying the building would allow them to plan for the long term.

"We've been around since 1977 and have grown incredibly over that time. We now deliver regional and statewide programs from this centre in Lismore. Having our own building will allow us to plan more effectively for the future," she said.

"It is something we identified in our strategic plan in 2010, but we thought it was just a dream, that it would be in the too hard basket. But with the support of Lismore City Council we have done it."

Lismore Neighbourhood Centre employs 65 people and has "an army of volunteers" working on dozens of programs from Ballina to Kyogle. They also recruit and train volunteers for other organisations and have distributed over $1.8 million through the No Interest Loans Scheme across the region.

"But we are still a grassroots service. We direct assistance to disadvantaged people in our community," Ms Beetson-Mortimer said.

At the handover they also launched a new initiative called Friends of Lismore Neighbourhood Centre to help raise the necessary funds to meet repayments.

If you would like to join, phone 6621 7397.



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