A place where older men can socialise, share skills, keep their brains active and mentor youth won top honours at the Tauranga community awards last night.
Tauranga Men's Shed emerged supreme winner from 71 community groups entered in the 2013 TrustPower Tauranga Community Awards held at ASB Arena, Baypark.
The group was awarded a framed certificate, trophy and $1500 prize money and will represent Tauranga city at the 2013 TrustPower National Community Awards in March next year.
Aquinas College student Thea James won the Youth Community Spirit Award for her service to the school and community. At school she has been a peer mentor, member of a number of committees and helped organise an art competition to promote responsible drinking.
TrustPower's Teresa Partridge, who was one of the judges, said Thea also volunteered for Tauranga Riding for the Disabled and presented at local Rotary and Lions' Club meetings to promote the charity. "Thea is clearly an impressive young lady with an exciting future ahead." Meanwhile, the Men's Shed has a space at the Historic Village where volunteers can make things, spend time with other males, talk about issues and enjoy each other's company.
There are 26 core volunteers who collectively work more than 400 hours a week to provide a place where men of all abilities can get involved.
The volunteers offer their skills back to the community and have done repair work for the hospice shops, St Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, Red Cross, schools, churches and more.
One of the judges, Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said the repair work was secondary to the main aim of the organisation, which was to encourage the men's self esteem.
"From what I understand they all are widowers and this is about maintaining their self esteem and showing they can still contribute meaningfully to the community through the work of the Men's Shed."
Mr Crosby was heartened to see number of volunteers and community groups recognised at the awards.
"I'm really encouraged and it always blows me away the amount of volunteer groups we have here in the city."