A community housing provider helping social housing residents and young Novocastrians realise their dreams is hosting a luncheon to raise funds for its scholarship program.

Grow a Star co-ordinator Shane Marshall, Max Heffernan, Collective Heart member Matt Linnert and Home in Place community partnerships manager Michelle Faithfull.

When Hunter based organisation, Home in Place, established the Grow A Star scholarship program in 2012, it was a first-of-its-kind program in the Australian community housing sector.

Funds raised from the luncheon on June 10 at Noah’s on the Beach will go towards the scholarship program helping disadvantaged youth realise their artistic, academic and sporting dreams.  

Wickham student, Max Heffernan, has recently benefited from a $2000 Grow A Star scholarship, with the 16-year-old receiving his own computer and financial help for some school costs.

The Year 11 student who attends Cooks Hill College’s Big Picture Program said he was offered the scholarship after he and his mum had moved into a Home in Place house.

“Mum rents a Home in Place property, and they referred me to the Grow A Star program,” Max said.

“This scholarship means I can get a computer now rather than saving for it from my part-time hospitality jobs.”

Prior to receiving his new computer, Max often stayed after school or borrowed his girlfriend’s computer to complete homework and assignments.

“I will be able to use this computer for my schooling and personal projects…my friends and I love filming short skits, and I like video editing and making short films,” Max said.

“I’m really looking forward to learning more about editing programs and understanding audio development.”

Max is also starting TAFE next term, hoping to get his Certificate 3 in Kitchen Operations.

Along with Home in Place’s support, Max’s scholarship was also funded by Hunter-based member organisation, Collective Heart.

Home in Place community partnerships manager, Michelle Faithfull, said support from the Collective Heart, other business partners and the luncheon would help kids overcome obstacles.

She said scholarship recipients would also receive mentoring from Grow A Star co-ordinator, Shane Marshall.

“Often, the cost of equipment, lessons and extra-curricular programs prevents some kids with talents from realising their potential,” Faithfull said.

“We also provide mentoring to give young people another adult to talk to and help them in setting goals to reach for the stars.”

Olympic gold medal-winning speed skater, Steven Bradbury, will also attend the luncheon to share his story.

Faithfull said Steven Bradbury’s story of becoming Australia’s first Winter Olympic gold medallist was fitting and inspirational.

“Steven underwent years of training, pain, setbacks, sacrifice and even life-threatening injuries to win the short track speed skating men’s 1000m final in 2002,” Faithfull said.

“While it was perhaps the most unlikely, unthinkable gold medal in the history of the Olympics, it was due to Steven’s years of determination, hard work and arming himself with the information, tools and support he needed to pursue his dream.”

The luncheon starts from 1 pm to 3 pm at Noah’s on the Beach; tickets are available through humanitix.com.

People wishing to apply for scholarships or businesses, individuals and organisations wishing to support scholarships should visit www.growastar.org.

Hayley McMahon