Our Mission Statement
Span Community House Inc. seeks to contribute to the development of a sustainable and connected local community through educational and recreational activities. Our staff and volunteers are committed to equal opportunity, diversity and community development.
• the diversity among our staff, volunteers, participants
• social justice and the empowerment of marginalised groups
• participation without barriers
• environmental sustainability
• sustainable service provision and business practice
• the health and wellbeing of our community.
Span Community House Inc. began as a cooperative community organisation and has been in Thornbury for 36 years. Beginning in 1978, Span was a pilot project of the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s new approach to community services. Span was a culmination of this philosophy of engaging senior citizens. Until the early 1990’s, Span activities centred on the elderly within our community. During this initial period Span had a range of classes, programs and social action campaigns run for, and by, elderly people.
Today, Span is a House that offers low-cost quality activities and programs for people from diverse backgrounds, ages, abilities and needs.
Span has retained its commitment to the local community and to bridging difference and serving all regardless of age, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation or gender.
Its role as an organisation that attempts to serve the disadvantaged in special ways has also continued, though this focus has shifted from only seniors, to include new and emerging communities and people of a variety of physical and mental abilities.
Our Staff and Volunteers
Span has a small team of three part time staff: manager, administrator and program co-ordinator. We have a number of term tutors, who are supported by our dedicated local volunteers and board of directors.
Here’s what our volunteers have to say about Span:
“Span has helped me deal with my life’s overwhelming issues. Volunteering gave me a reason to keep going in life through the support of staff and other volunteers” – Barb (Volunteer 5 years).
“Meeting people from all walks of life and keeping up my office skills are just a few of the reasons why I volunteer. For me, Span is all about friendliness, happiness and security.” – Judi (Volunteer 3 years).
After having fled from Brisbane in late 2014 due to a spate of domestic violence and episodic mental health issues, I was lost in a state of psychological distress and emotional turmoil as I faced relative complex issues. Disconnected from my wonderful ex work colleagues, friends and estranged family members, I lacked direction and had low self-worth. Needless to say, my life spiralled out of control.
Near homeless, couch surfing, I was untrusting and at times over-trusting of others to the point of self-deprecation. Not knowing or understanding the idea of ‘community,’ I mixed with the ‘wrong’ sort. I struggled to put food on the table, top up my myki and travel on public transport.
Thinking about studying, finding or maintaining a job was far from my mind at this point and was not my priority. Instead my energy was focused on getting by; that is, day to day and week to week. The system (it seemed at that time), had failed me and as much as I wanted to persist and move forward, I couldn’t see any way out.
Fortunately, push came to shove and with the guidance of an excellent psychologist through a GP’s mental health care plan, I was linked into a professional support network who met with me, worked hard collaboratively and as part of my recovery, introduced me to Span Community House, Thornbury.
I recall my first impression of Span. I opened the door to the ‘house’ and was greeted by a warm, welcoming and wonderful reception of staff, volunteers and students. Not to mention, the exotic rich aroma of vegetable curry from the community lunch wafted through the main office area as a lovely staff member by the name of ‘Sarah’ and I chatted.
I was then invited in for lunch and nearly cried. I had in my possession: no money, nor food at home in the fridge and no idea about the potential opportunities that awaited. As I sat down in the kitchen and lunch was served, my cold exterior (like that of my harsh interior) lifted.
I chatted and networked with several people, ate and then drank a coffee. On my way out I was offered dessert and accepted the apple strudel with a program brochure. Three weeks later into mid 2015, and through the assistance of my care team, I enrolled in ‘Cooking for healthy minds’ and subsequently ‘Thornbury writers workshop’.
I have met some lovely people and exceptional tutors. All those involved have been helpful in their approach and have always encouraged me to further challenge myself in pursuing my passions.
Today, I have completed cooking and am continuing with yet another term of writing in Span’s Thornbury Writers Workshop. My future is bright. I have participated in Span’s open Day and made priceless friendships with fellow neighbours at my local neighbourhood house, Span. I work, I plan to study tertiary level and am writing a memoir. My story does not end here. Watch this space!