THE people and community groups that have strived to help Wonthaggi thrive over the past 20 years are being celebrated as part of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal’s (FRRR) 20th anniversary.

Since FRRR was founded in 2000, Wonthaggi has seen $505,209 in grants awarded by the foundation to 17 local organisations, including the Wonthaggi Woodcrafters, Wonthaggi Theatrical Group, and Wonthaggi Seed Bank and Community Nursery.

This funding has gone towards supporting 61 community-led projects, many of which have been designed to help the young people of Wonthaggi. These youth-focused activities have included a driver’s education program for young disadvantaged members in the community, a youth-focused art program at the State Coal Mine, and the purchase of sensory items for students at Bass Coast Specialist School.

The local people who run and volunteer at community groups and not-for-profits in Wonthaggi have worked tirelessly to take the lead on these projects and have helped to contribute to a richer and more socially connected community.

The Bass Coast Community Foundation (BCCF) is just one great example of Wonthaggi’s inspiring local people helping their community to thrive. Since 2005, FRRR has worked with the BCCF to support students and families throughout the community by funding Back to School vouchers, which the BCCF then distribute.

Kirsty Mawer, executive officer of the BCFF, said they valued the long-term relationship with FRRR, especially with the Back to School vouchers that make a real difference to people across the whole community.

“Partnering with schools to distribute this sort of support is invaluable, as teachers who know what the kids need and can provide the resources promptly without the bureaucracy attached to many grants, and for the kids, it gives them pride and a feeling of fitting in with peers when they are given new school shoes, for example,” Ms Mawer said.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said the FRRR had always believed in the power of people to drive prosperity.

“One thing that has remained constant for FRRR is our belief that local people are best placed to know what is needed in their community. Our role is to support them, to trust them, and to help them through the good times and the not-so-good times.

“From funding for things like creative workshops and programs, important infrastructure and equipment to help groups run safely, or opportunities for people to come together, engage and connect with their community, the support from our generous donor partners has meant we have been able to support a variety of projects in Wonthaggi and the surrounding areas.

“These projects, and the people that have made them happen, have all played a role in improving access to opportunities for those living in Wonthaggi. We look forward to helping make more projects a reality,” Ms Egleton said.

More information is available on FRRR’s website at frrr.org.au.