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Join in ... at the Murraylands Community Men's Shed
Mick Loeckenhoff and Barry Laubsch invite you to roll up your sleeves and have a go, or even just come along for a cuppa.
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Down at the Murray Bridge Showground, the Murraylands Community Men’s Shed fires on all cylinders on weekdays, from as early as 6.30am.
With community projects, repairs, toy making and more, there is always something for men’s shed members to do – even if it’s just to hang about for a chat.
Secretary Mick Loeckenhoff has been a shed member since its inception, and attends every day.
“We have 60 to 100 members … they all have different skill levels,” he said.
“Our policy is that when you walk through that door, you’ll feel welcomed.
“We’ll bring you in, give you the tour and find out what interests you.”
Murray Bridge News sat down with Mr Loeckenhoff and treasurer Barry Laubsch to chat about the group and what it has to offer.
With an exclusive event, Spanner in the Works, coming up this November, they said it may be a great time to consider joining.
When did you first get involved with the men’s shed?
Mick: In May 2011, a group of men and their wives from the area got together to discuss opening up a men’s shed. We then went to the council, and they gave us $35,000 for a shed. Barry, at the time, was on the council and put forward a motion to get us another $57,000, so we ended up with $92,000, which was enough to buy the shell of the shed and have someone come in and do the concreting and plumbing. Everything else was built by the men.
Barry: I joined the men’s shed from pure interest in 2012, but then I became more heavily involved in 2014.
What do you spend your time doing each day?
Mick: Everyone has a different role. Some people make model boats, some come in and sweep the floors occasionally, some come to just sit around and chat. We’ve had a few people come with their carers, and they love it. No one is pressured to perform, all the work is volunteer-based. Also, we don’t do projects that are too big or interfere with a local business. Our relationship with the community is an important part of what we do.
Barry: Sometimes, when someone has a project that is too small for a local business, they’ll refer their customers to us. There’s always something to do. We have a coffee break at 8.30 and 10.30 everyday, and so some men just come for a coffee.
What do you get out of your involvement?
Mick: It’s the camaraderie when we get together. In the summer, there’ll be 10 of us sitting outside in the garden at the table and benches we made. We’ll talk about anything. At our morning teas, we save the world. The talk is unbelievable. I would love to record some of those discussions.
What is your fondest memory of your time with the men’s shed?
Mick: I think it’s whenever we’ve helped somebody out in strife, including the ashes boxes we’ve made for families who have lost loved ones. We love to help the community and individuals, the appreciation is so profound. And when we make something for the kids, they are so appreciative, their eyes shine.
What is your greatest achievement with?
Mick: The building of the shed was huge. For a project though, it would have to be the restoration of the World War One gun that’s now on display in the RSL. The logistics of that … they had to bring it in with a special crane, we had to build copies of the original wheels. You had to get everything just right. We even matched the paint color and type. The satisfaction when we finished that project was so profound. We also made two wooden replicas of the gun and gifted them to the mayor and the person who donated the crane.
Barry: From my point of view it’s the development of the members. When some of them first join, they don’t know what to do or say, but it’s not long before they are part of the group and the banter. They start as introverts and end up extroverts, they are so different now. It’s almost magic.
Why should people join Murraylands Community Men's Shed?
Mick: To fight the loneliness. There are men who have been working all their life and when they retire, they put their skills in their back pocket. When they come to the men’s shed, it brings them out of the house, and they can train other people. We’re always looking for members.
Barry: At home, you would’ve had a garage with all your tools hung up and a workspace. When you move into a retirement village, you probably won’t have a shed anymore. Here, you’ve got one.
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