On Friday 9th October, CEF national office staff members Lisa Carrick and Nicole Wright headed out west for a mini road trip and morning tea with community members in West Wyalong. The trip was a wonderful reminder of the amazing people involved with CEF, the importance of community and the beauty of regional Australia.
As we drive to West Wyalong in NSW, after recent rains we are surrounded by lush green paddocks, beautiful towering trees and patches of purple Paterson’s Curse.
When we turn onto the main street there is no mistaking the old-world Australiana charm with historic buildings and original verandahs standing vigilant, watching the bustling of people and business.
Entering the local Findex office, we are greeted with that friendly, familiar country welcome, the one that instantly makes you feel at home.
As we settle in for a platter of unmistakably home-cooked slices and great coffee ordered on the local coffee shop’s fancy new app (showing that it is definitely not all outhouses and tin can telephones in the country), the passion for supporting country youth is palpable and inspiring.
We are joined for coffee and cake by CEF West Wyalong Treasurer/Secretary Kate Maslin and Chair Tony Lord, former treasurer Rosemary Rossiter and Findex staff members Rachelle Nowland and Annika Nowell, who proudly support CEF through the Findex Community Fund.
Current West Wyalong grant recipients Kate Payne and Mitchell Lord also pop in to say hello.
I feel that coming from a regional town is a privilege. Growing up in a small, rural town like West Wyalong has installed a great belief of community involvement I do not think would be quite the same compared to living in an urban area. The community aspect is, in my opinion, the best part about coming from such a small town and I would not trade it for anything else. Coming from West Wyalong has also given me perspective on life that nowhere else could.Mitchell LordCEF West Wyalong grant recipient
THE CHALLENGES FACED IN 2020
”We are hanging on for this harvest, but there is still no money in the bank now.”
CEF of West Wyalong
Immediately, conversation begins with the difficulties the local foundation and community have faced in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Tony tells us that the committee had “great goals set, but COVID-19 changed all that”, with Kate adding, “how do you fundraise during this time?”
She also reveals that while it might look promising from the outside after the recent rain, like so many farming communities she says the struggle is not over yet.
The West Wyalong committee is small and very dedicated. They tell us how difficult it is to recruit new members in a small community like theirs, and are always looking for ways to encourage new member involvement to make sure that the foundation can continue well into the future.
Kate and Tony are grateful for the support they receive from the CEF national office. The valuable additional financial support from the current matched giving campaign and national partners, like the Findex Community Fund, ensures they can do what they do best, and support as many students as possible through the tough times.
UNLOCKING STUDENTS’ FULL POTENTIAL
Since 2017, the Findex Community Fund and CEF partnership has provided almost 50 grants and scholarships to rural and regional students, and has assisted 44 local CEF foundations, including West Wyalong.
In 2021, CEF is again excited to partner with the fund to provide 6 x $3,000 scholarships to eligible students from across the CEF network.
The scholarships will be offered via the new CEF Extra program, dedicated to the management of CEF national scholarships and working with partners to create exciting work experience, professional networking and mentoring opportunities for CEF students.
This year the funding has helped me significantly as the pandemic has put a greater financial strain on university students due to reduced casual employment opportunities. The support from CEF West Wyalong and partners like Findex Community Fund has enhanced my learning opportunities and reduced the financial stressors associated with living away from home. These benefits have had a positive influence on my both studies and well being.Kate PayneCEF West Wyalong grant recipient
Rachelle and Annika are enthusiastic about raising awareness of the importance of education in the community, and it is clear they are delighted to be part of an organisation that is committed to supporting regional youth in achieving their goals.
Rachelle speaks excitedly about why they love this partnership so much, saying “it is investing in our future. This is our business and we want to develop and bring people to professional careers in the country.”
Like many other professions and trades, they tell us there is an extreme shortage of accountants in rural areas.
Rachelle says what many of us are so often thinking. People are “unaware of what’s over the mountains when coming back to the country for employment.”
“We are very passionate about supporting our youth and raising awareness in the community about education, CEF and the quality of life in regional areas.”
Findex West Wyalong
And everyone at the table whole-heartedly agreed that the sense of community, presence of organisations like Findex and CEF, and the quality of life in rural and regional areas like the charming town of West Wyalong, is invaluable and unmatched.
If you live in a regional area and are interested in volunteering for CEF, see this map for our current foundations.