Rotary club hears about youth cottage
The Rotary Club of Woy Woy's latest guest speaker was Mr Peter Downey of the Woy Woy Youth Cottage.
"Peter was very quietly spoken but extremely passionate about his work," said club publicity officer Mr Vic Deeble.
"Peter's ancestors come from the Hawkesbury region.
"He studied engineering and had an excellent career as a production manager but when he was at school, he was touched by a friend who unbeknown to him was homeless and committed suicide.
"This led Peter into wanting to help the disadvantaged.
"He studied in his own time and completed a diploma in community services.
"He volunteered to help at Coast Shelter Youth Refuge, which he finds both rewarding and educational.
"He has worked beside Laurie Maher for quite some time, who he says is inspirational.
"Peter likes the similarities of Rotary and the work he does, with people being selfless and doing things for others," Mr Deeble said.
"The first question Peter said he always gets asked about homeless youth is 'Are they on drugs?'
"The answer is no.
"Drug use is not tolerated at the Cottage," Mr Deeble said.
Mr Downey told club members that he houses six homeless youths aged between 12 and 24 in his own home at Umina.
"Peter explained how, to young people, appearance was important.
"You would never pick a homeless young person.
"Peter treats them all as individuals.
"He has a high success rate, finding that education leads to employment and then self-sufficiency," Mr Deeble said.
Mr Downey also asked the Rotarians present if any would be interested in mentoring a young person in the future, driver education mentors in particular are extremely sought after.
"He also pointed out that the Central Coast has the fastest growing aboriginal community in Australia, and that the Central Coast also has the highest youth unemployment in the state."
Newsletter, 28 May 2019
Vic Deeble, Rotary Club of Woy Woy