There’s a buzz around Wests Illawarra that’s spreading into the community – and the club couldn’t be happier about it.
On 12 December the club launched Community Strong, an initiative that provides support to charity partners, sporting groups, local businesses, members and its workforce of almost 120 staff.
As part of Community Strong, a feature wall looking like a beehive has been unveiled to demonstrate just how the club supports the community.
Wests CEO Danny Munk was joined by Wollongong MP Paul Scully, Lifeline CEO Renee Green, the Disability Group’s Michael Norris and the Flagstaff Group’s Sarah Nodwell, who helped to unveil the specially commissioned artwork.
Danny explained that the Community Strong wall comprised multiple hexagons of different sizes, designed to represent a beehive.
“Bees are notorious for their teamwork, and they know that their job is crucial to the bigger picture,” he said.
“This is what Wests Illawarra’s Community Strong is all about – it’s a celebration of the way different elements of the Illawarra community come together for the greater good, powered by the support Wests Illawarra provides in a variety of ways.”
In the last financial year, Wests provided more than $440,000 in grants to sporting and social groups including Wests Cricket Club, Wests Devils Rugby League Football Club, Wests Netball, and Wests Hockey Club.
The club has been behind Wests Cricket Club since 1950, and supported Wests Illawarra Netball Club for more than 50 years, allowing the club to fund equipment, support representative players, and to hold annual presentations at the Unanderra site.
Netball Club treasurer Kylie Judd said she had seen generations of netballers “from seeing the grandmother that used to stand here and now we are teaching their grandchildren”.
Wests has supported Lifeline for more than a decade and Renee said the club was a key financial contributor to the work it did in training volunteers.
“With their support we’re able to train more volunteers, take more calls and provide free training to the community so everyone can recognise the warning signs of suicide and respond appropriately,” she said.
“The community training ranges from domestic and family violence, suicide awareness and prevention and accidental counsellor-type training, so anybody can step in when someone’s in crisis or distress and feel prepared and confident to help them.”
Danny said the Community Strong initiative was “a part of who we are”.
“This is not something that we have just started,” he said.
“This is about us making sure our members and our community understand who we are, what we do and hope we’re doing it, because at the end of the day, this is about us being a natural fit with the community.
“We have over 120 staff, of those 118 live in the local area, so that’s over $7 million worth of income going back into the local area.
“We’ve created careers for our exceptional employees who really are the heart and soul of Wests Illawarra.”
The Community Strong feature wall, near the Artisan dining area, is made from recycled cardboard, and is designed so individual shapes can be removed and updated in the future.