This coming weekend men in Katherine will have a dedicated shed to have healthy chats and get their hands dirty working on community projects.
After just one year of fundraising, the Katherine Men's Shed will throw open its brand new doors.
In a town where bringing projects to life can be a long process, this success story is thanks to significant community support which got the project off the ground.
As of Saturday, the renovated shed will be tooled up, thanks to generous donations, and ready for men to work shoulder to shoulder.
The joint fundraising effort by the Men's Shed committee and Rotary Katherine saw about $35,000 dedicated to the project, both in cash and in kind support.
It was an amount which secretary of the Men's Shed Chris Dixon thought the committee would never get to.
"We made a determined effort to raise the money, but I never thought we would actually make it," Mr Dixon said.
"Men's health is a serious issue, especially as Katherine is such a remote region, and this did make it easier to gain support.
"It was a lot of work, we wrote to a lot of organisations and groups, and we had a lot of people spending weekend after weekend in the hot sun to get it going.
"It was such a big project and we couldn't have gotten it done without the support of the Men's Shed manager Bryan Walters, and everyone else in the community who helped significantly."
The idea had been brewing for more than eight years. There was space for a shed at the Rotary Park in Katherine, and there was a clear need for a safe space for men who wanted something to do other than play sport or drink at the pub.
More Reading: Fundraising to bring Katherine Men’s Shed to life
"We tried to get it off the ground at least three times. But it was not until last year that we really thought we could make it," Mr Dixon said.
"It really all started with Jim Bitossi, who has since passed. He wanted a university of the third age of sorts, somewhere people can come and learn things for little charge.
"He wanted to call it 'G Wiz'.
"I also wanted a community education centre, but when the committee got going we decided there would be more opportunity for funding as a Men's Shed, as men's health is such a big issue."
From a dilapidated structure built in 1993, by one of the current Men’s Shed founders, the shed has been re-erected to meet current 21st century building standards.
Already, Katherine schools, the Katherine Men’s Shelter – which helps single men aged over 18 years who are experiencing homelessness, Carers NT and Rise Ventures have reached out, interested in becoming involved.
Mr Dixon said collectively the men who will be using the shed will have significant amounts of knowledge to pass on.
"We will have people on the committee and members who will have wonderful skills, and once we are up and running we will have more people and will be able to offer more activities," Mr Dixon said.
Not only will the shed be a place for men in the community to share skills and work on community projects, most importantly, health will be at the forefront.
"For a certain group of people there is nothing for them to do except sit in air-conditioning and watch TV," Mr Dixon said.
"A lot of these blokes are handy with their hands, but outside of work there is not much for them to do.
"Men don't often talk about mental health, but are much more likely to speak with their friends especially if they are working side by side, or as the Australian Men's Shed association likes to say, shoulder to shoulder."
While the re-erection of the actual shed may turn out to be the biggest of the projects taken on by the members, there are many more in the works.
And all of them will benefit the community.
“What ever we make we want to sell back to the community, to benefit the community and fund future projects,” Mr Dixon said.
“We are looking at updating the 18 hole mini golf course located at the Rotary Park with crazy structures for each hole.
“Re-erecting the actual shed though is our biggest project so far and a great opportunity for men interested to come along, help out and meet new people,” he said.
The Katherine Men's Shed will initially be open on Thursday and Sunday from 1pm to 7pm.
However, the committee is hoping to extend these hours as more people join up.
Administrator of the Northern Territory Vicki O'Halloran, will be at the opening ceremony this Saturday at 12pm, to officially launch the new Men's Shed.
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