This continues to be a year of great excitement! After many years of dreaming, planning, budgeting and fundraising, facilities suitable for the third millennium are now a reality in the expanded Dunlea Centre complex.
Last year I wrote of our strong tradition melding charism, hard work and evolving response to the changing needs of youth-at-risk. This year the Executive, Board and Trustees concentrate on best implementation and practice for the future. And, happily, that future has concretely begun as dreams turned into new buildings and refurbished facilities!
We have also partnered with Montessori Academy in a relationship which will provide good use of the Boys’ Town Hospital site by bringing us steady revenue and providing much needed pre-school care for the local community and many of the staff in our educational centres in Engadine.
It was particularly lovely to have a number of Old Boys with us for the opening of the new residential-learning pods. These “boys” ranged over several decades, with one even taking us back to the initial years with Fr Dunlea himself. Others I had personally known as a young teacher here back in the seventies. The presence of dignitaries (from our Shire Mayor to State and Commonwealth Government NSW to Catholic Education Commission to local Principals) on such key occasions is very important and evidences our working together for the welfare of young people and families in our Commonwealth. But the coming together of our current young people with the Old Boys who have previously benefited from time at Boys’ Town and Dunlea, added a very special ingredient to the celebration. Old Boys proudly sharing stories and comparing the old and new with spouses and children, and particularly commenting on the “where would I now be if not for my time here”, bridge the different eras in the story of this place and concretely show the reason for our being here and why we work so hard to maintain steady development. It is a lesson for our current young people and it is a lesson for the Board in holding the focus of our priorities and strategizing as we work closely with the Dunlea staff and Executive in their proactive response to the challenging needs of youth and families.
The balance of adventurous planning and security of management is always concern for a Board and we feel we have a safe and conscientious Executive who manage this tension well. Dunlea’s adaptive educational programme was not just passed, but praised in the Board of Studies reaccreditation earlier in the year. In the financial sphere, a not-for-profit agency can budget only insofar as the often unpredictable streams of government subsidy and private donations allow. We are reliant on the generosity of benefactors and the goodwill of governments and pray that both will continue to support us in our ongoing service to young people and their families who are at risk. This is sound investment in individuals, families and the future wellbeing of our country.
Fr Peter Carroll sdb