Community house celebrates fifth birthday

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YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

The demand for space in the Alexandra Community House (ACH) means the management trust is considering expansion to provide more room for community and social service organisations.

Community house manager Carole Gillions said they were looking at the feasibility of expanding the facility to provide more office space because, in addition to the 16 permanent groups and organisations that rented rooms at the community house and the 150 other groups that were casual users, they also had a waiting list.

“We are ahead of where we thought we would be [five years ago] and there is a great need out there,” Ms Gillions said.

“It [the community house] is a really significant part of the community.”

The ACH celebrated its fifth anniversary of its opening last Friday afternoon.

About 30 people gathered to mark the occasion and two of the original members of the management trust, Liz Duggan and Deirdre Jolly, cut the birthday cake.

Ms Gillions said having that many community groups and social services under the one roof meant staff had more opportunities to network and connect with other organisations.

“Often, if people can’t find the exact person they are looking for, we can find someone who knows who the exact person they are looking for is.”

The community house rents offices to social service and relationship agencies, as well as education and arts and crafts groups.

The trust’s chairwoman, Bernie Lepper, said she thought the facility had surpassed the goals set during the original discussions in 2007.

She said it took about a year to raise the required $2.6million from grants from the Central Lakes Trust, Lotteries Community Facilities, the Alexander McMillan Trust and the Otago Community Trust.

Other groups provided additional funding, including a donation from the Art and Craft Alexandra Group, which had sold The Studio in Tarbert St.

It took another five years to be built and it was opened in February 2013.

MP Jacqui Dean also spoke about her association with the community house and congratulated the trust on the Alexandra Community House’s fifth birthday.

“There will be a lot more magic to come out of this building during the next 10 years,” Ms Dean said.