St David’s Neighbourhood Centre has grown from a humble beginning. In the early 1980’s, congregation members from St David’s Uniting Church agreed one of their missions was to reach out to the community. They formed a committee to ascertain where there may be need. Congregation members went to the local community and connected with people at the local shopping centres. They interviewed them and drew up a list of the greatest needs in the community.
Local mothers were keen to access part-time childcare so they could attend appointments etc. Childcare for babies and children commenced in St David’s Uniting Church hall offering two hour morning sessions manned by volunteers from the church.
To raise funds a small Thrift Shop was set up in the church hall and was opened to the public on Saturday mornings.
As more community needs were identified it became clear a person was needed to be responsible for the overall running of the programs.
Deaconess Jan Chalmers arrived at St David’s Uniting church in 1986, with prior experience as a coordinator of a Neighbourhood Centre at Belmoral Church, she stepped in and provided the leadership and direction needed to continue the mission work of the church. It was at this point the organisation became officially known as St David’s Neighbourhood Centre.
With no government funding, fundraising became the main way to fund the activities and programs that would meet the local need and broaden the services on offer. The original committee and the many supporters organised fashion parades, garage sales, art shows, fairs and other events to raise the much needed funds. Congregation members supported the work by making regular financial donations and their time such as taking annual leave to help fun school holiday camps for children.
Due to tenacity of Jan Chalmers and the committee, the neighbourhood centre eventually became eligible for government funding. Funding was granted for Occasional Childcare in 1992 and has since been followed by Neighbourhood Centre, Aged Care and Disability funding. Along with one off grants the organisation has expanded the services, programs and activities on offer to the local community.
The purpose of the centre is still to be the mission of St David’s Uniting Church and address the needs of the community. It continues to be a flourishing centre that welcomes all members of the community by growing and adapting to be a relevant and viable organisation.