Home' Aurora : Aurora July 2013 Contents 19
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
Coffs Harbour: A Holiday Mecca
63 Ocean Pde, Coffs Harbour
02 6652 6599 | Freecall 1800 025 163
From the Big Banana to the Pet Porpoise Pool,
Coffs Harbour has so much to offer.
Sandcastles Holiday Apartments are located
opposite main beach, Park Beach bowling club,
close to restaurants & shops.
1 & 2 Bedroom Apartments
spacious, fully self-contained with own private
balconies and air conditioning.
12m Heated Pool
& hot spas, sauna, BBQs
& U/C security parking.
Plus Austar & free broadband*
The name of Central Coast charity, Coast
Shelter, could easily be misunderstood as a
'coastwatch' organisation. Executive Officer
Laurie clarifies that he and his colleagues
and supporters are not about rescuing the
drowning -- well, not literally. Coast Shelter's
mission is 'Ending homelessness on the
Central Coast' and while the need is getting
greater, Laurie Maher, addressing the
Assembly of Catholic Professionals, insists,
"It's going to get better".
Coast Shelter is the reincarnation of a family
refuge in Gosford occupying the former
Josephite Convent. The building was not
viable but the needs were great. Embodying
Mary MacKillop's dictum, "Never see a need
without doing something about it", Laurie
Maher created a Board, secured funding for
a year and purchased new buildings. From
humble beginnings 21 years ago, Coast
Shelter has grown to encompass refuges
for youth, women, men, and women with
children. It also offers support, brokerage,
no interest loans, meals, assessment and
referral to all in need.
While the annual budget is $200,000, the
Board members and supporters raise an
additional $400,000 annually, ensuring that
no one is turned away without any support.
Earlier in his career, Laurie Maher was
Superintendent of Mount Penang Detention
Centre and finally, the Assistant Director
in charge of Juvenile Justice NSW. He
brought to the organisation that became
Coast Shelter plenty of experience with
government departments and funding
bodies, but most of all, a determination to
address real local needs which owed much
to his seminary training as a young man,
a grounded personal spirituality and his
commitment to what he calls, "getting my
The term "social inclusion" recurs often in
Laurie's conversation and he has an innate
respect for the dignity of the individual. The
Central Coast population explosion of the
1990s was not accompanied by provision
of necessary services and the impact of
this disconnect is still evident. When Laurie
felt that Coast Shelter's ability to assist the
homeless was not keeping up with growing
needs, he was challenged "to put up or
shut up". He responded by running for, and
being elected to, local government. "About
eighteen months later," he said, "they made
me mayor and I tried to introduce a social
conscience into the Council."
The impact of Laurie's public service
remains and at 74, he has no plans to retire
or even step back. Speaking to him, it's
clear that here is a man who needs to be
active and engaged, and to be engaging
others. His address to the Diocese's
Assembly of Catholic Professionals
strongly challenged his audience to make a
difference in the local community.
You may wish to visit http://coastshelter.
org.au and www.mn.catholic.org.
au/about/fundraising To read about
members of the diocesan community
participating in Vinnies CEO Sleepout,
please turn to page 9.
Not drowning, saving
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