Willmot Community Hub upgrade 'more than just a garden'

MANY HANDS: Willmot Community Hub's upgrade came after a chance meeting between David Hammond from Jesuit Social Services and Lendlease's Robert McDermott. Picture: Isabella Lettini

MANY HANDS: Willmot Community Hub's upgrade came after a chance meeting between David Hammond from Jesuit Social Services and Lendlease's Robert McDermott. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Many hands made light work on Thursday as Willmot Community Hub’s transformation began.

Dozens of volunteers from the community and Lendlease contractors dug in to help put the hub on course to become a “beautiful oasis”.

The old concrete has been ripped up over the past few weeks. In its place new turf was laid and gardens planted.

Eventually a kids’ playground and yarn circle will be installed at the site on Carteret Avenue.

Jesuit Social Services’ David Hammond said the idea had been bubbling away for more than a year, but financial restraints kept plans in a state of limbo.

“We didn’t have a budget, but we had a vision,” he said.

“The vision was for the hub to become a really hospitable place for the brilliant local people and organisations who provide services.”

Earlier this year Mr Hammond met Lendlease site manager Robert McDermott at a charity dinner and the two shared stories of their community work.

Before he knew it, Mr McDermott was at the hub surveying the site and looking over plans.

“He said we can work with that,” Mr Hammond said.

On Thursday contractors worked free of charge, providing the resources needed to make the dream a reality.

They brought turf, soil, trucks and bobcats, while plants were provided by Blacktown Council, Royal Botanic Gardens and Greater Western Landscapes.

“I went away, hid in the corner and had a cry before,” Mr Hammond said.

Brenton Norman, 11, was among dozens of locals to pitch in. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Brenton Norman, 11, was among dozens of locals to pitch in. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Mr McDermott said the workers who donated their time believed it was for a more than worthy cause.

“It’s one day out of their life,” he said. “What Dave and the team do here...this is their life.

“If we’re going to do something like this we want to make sure it's for a cause that really needs it.

“It’s more than just laying some turf and doing some gardening, it’s hopefully going to make a big difference to what the team do here.”

Mr Hammond said the project was another step in local organisations’ goal to create a new narrative for the suburb.

“No one is pretending there’s not problems here,” he said. “But if you tell a kid they’re useless, by the age of 12 they’ll prove you right.

“These people are here because they care about Willmot. This is something to be proud of.

“It’s not a garden, it’s hope.”

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