Residents at a specialist disability accommodation provider in Red Hill are one big step closer to being able to enjoy a sensory garden, thanks to a donation from Victoria’s Freemasons.
Freemasons Foundation Victoria (FFV), Freemasons Victoria Grand Master and Seaford Lodge joined forces to donate $20,663 to Focus Individualised Support Services (Focus) toward the development of the garden.
Pictured above: Darren Jewell, Clinton Hodgart, Toni Stewart, Michelle Dunne, Neil Cripps, Tony Bucca
Focus provide accommodation supports to up to 95 adults living with a disability in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula area. They ensure they are valued and empowered to make their own choices and live a fulfilling life. The sensory garden will enhance the health and social wellbeing of the tenants at their Red Hill property and be a significant upgrade to the outdoor space. The donation will also enable the update and repair of equipment used in the garden.
Spending time outdoors has a range of health benefits and sensory gardens are designed to stimulate all five senses, while reducing stress. They have proven therapeutic value for people with disabilities, who can enjoy nature in a safe environment. The garden will be a beautiful space where family, friends and the public can meet, relax, reflect and chat with tenants. It will also provide a shared activity for residents, as a place to grow produce to share with others in the service’s cooking program.
Clint Hodgart, from Seaford Lodge, set the project in motion. It began last October when they raised $5,663 via a special members dinner. They then applied to FFV for a Masonic Grant, to leverage their fundraising efforts.
Clint explained that being local and community based made Focus a good match for the Lodge’s charitable intent.
FFV approved the Lodge’s application to the Masonic Grants program, contributing $10,000 to amplify local fundraising efforts. An additional $5,000 was contributed upon request from the Freemason’s Victoria Grand Master.
FFV Executive Officer Neil Cripps wants more Lodges to spearhead projects like this one.
“Our Masonic Grants program is open throughout most of the year. Lodges have to make a co-contribution from their own fundraising efforts, but the application process is simple,” Mr Cripps explained.
Last financial year, Freemasons Foundation Victoria approved 60 Masonic Grants, and on average, Lodges have increased their giving four-fold because of this program.
Clint Hodgart said it’s easy for lodges to reach out to their Foundation for assistance and says it should be taken up more frequently.
“It's such a good incentive, and it's not hard work. Lodges just have to put in their regular fundraising work and their efforts can be magnified by the Foundation. What they're doing is great work.”