Home > News > Archive > 21st August 2007

Gracelands’ growth proving need for revamped facility

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
HAPPY IN HIS WORK: Paul Jones (51) has lived in Te Awamutu all his life and has worked at Farmlands for the past 12 years. He is one of Gracelands many successful ‘employment with disability’ stories. The work gives him a sense of self worth and that he is playing a full part in society. He is pictured with Farmlands’ manager, Ross Walker. 233071AD

By Grant Johnston

The growing number of people seeking help from Gracelands Group of Services is proof of the organisation’s need for a new regional service centre.

In fact, since the appeal to raise $2 Million for the revamped facility was publicly launched in March, Gracelands’ client base has increased from 1100 to almost 1700 - a staggering 55% growth in just five months.

At a function last week to thank organisations and individuals who have assisted with fundraising to date, Brian Marcroft of the fundraising committee announced that around $1.2 Million has been raised.

Mr Marcroft became involved with Gracelands after his son Kent was badly injured in a hit-and-run car accident while out running at Ngahinapouri. Having seen first hand the value of Gracelands’ involvement in Kent’s rehabilitation, and the valuable assistance it gives to so many others, Mr Marcroft had no hesitation in agreeing to help out with fundraising.

The charity auction with Jason Gunn at the Events Centre had raised around $100,000, with a huge amount of local support. There had been significant grants from philanthropic trusts - the D.V. Bryant Trust, Scottwood Trust, Fountain City Sports, Perry Foundation, Lion Foundation, Trust Waikato and Waikato Federated Farmers. Service clubs like Rotary and Lions had contributed and Gracelands had run a number of fundraising events itself.

A ‘Gracelands Aware Night’ is planned in Hamilton - which accounts for one third of clients but where residents had yet to get behind the fundraising in the same way as Te Awamutu.

Mr Marcroft praised Gracelands’ CEO Robyn Klos, who he said had been untiring in her efforts for Gracelands throughout many years.

Mrs Klos said Gracelands was an organisation that just kept wanting to grow. She said it was hoped to keep the shell of the existing Teasdale Street building, and to build upwards. It would be a flexible building that would be the hub of the service Gracelands provides to clients with disabilities in employment from Huntly to Taumarunui.

Mrs Klos said some people had put in a huge effort to assist fundraising and she thanked them for that. She said Gracelands practices what it preaches, with its staff of 200 including 80 people with disabilities. Staff were dealing with increasing challenges, with societal issues also impacting on the disability sector.

It was hoped that the new building could be in place by the start of 2009.

Mike Livingstone, of Livingstone Building, said the company felt that the revamped Gracelands Service Centre was a community project it should be involved with. Of its 130 staff around the country, 50 were from Te Awamutu. The company is providing its services as project manager free of charge. Other professionals were providing discounted services.

“We have come to learn just how much Gracelands is involved with the community.” Board chairman, Wendy Neilson, was the final speaker at the Friends of Gracelands Function. She said that she had seen individuals grow tremendously through the opportunities provided to them by Gracelands.

“At Gracelands we walk our talk - we have a team of enthusiastic and passionate people who do great things in the community.”

If you want to contribute to Gracelands’ appeal phone 871 6410.