After years of neglect, Mt Druitt PCYC is being given a second chance with manager Lance Chaloner forging ahead with a new vision for the centre.
MT DRUITT PCYC manager Lance Chaloner has been fighting to breathe new life into the centre and give it back to the community.
In the six months he has been at the helm he said he had welcomed more than 1500 new members, reintroduced junior rugby league teams, repaired the gym, introduced almost 20 new services and pioneered weekly free-food stalls.
In coming weeks, he will introduce monthly community markets and a fortnightly free community dinner at the site.
He is also working to lock in funding to have a community nurse, family counsellor and a drugrehabilitation program permanently housed on-site.
“This is about taking it beyond a sport and recreation complex to give the community what they need,” Mr Chaloner said. “I want it to be the central hub for services in Mt Druitt, where the community can come and socialise in an affordable environment and offer an alternate lifestyle to the one they have now – give the community ownership and encourage pride in the town.”
Mr Chaloner said the PCYC brand was known for its ability to reach young people but he had discovered that by engaging the whole family he had been able to break down more barriers.
One person who has noticed the turnaround is Mt Druitt Business Chamber president Reg Murray, who has spent his whole life in the area.
“Lance has rebuilt the place, basically. Before he came along it was in a shocking state,” Mr Murray said.
“It is an absolute credit to him, he is such a passionate and friendly man and a very proud man.”
Mr Murray said the PCYC complex was almost lost to the community.
“The place had gone into a state of disrepair and was just locked up. He’s got in there and turned it around,” Mr Murray said.
Among the services on offer is a work-for-the-dole program run by Sarina Russo Job Access, where welfare recipients have been working to revive the complex’s garden and refurbish the paved areas.
Program manager Danielle Candrick said the complex was leading the way with community-focused programs.
Punching above their weight ... Lance Chaloner with Ned Narouz (left) and Jarrod Wall.