Enrich grant helping schools cafe
It means 'welcome' in Awabakal, and that's exactly how everyone is made to feel at Waratah West Public School's Yalla Cafe.
Over the past five years, a disused basement and canteen area has been transformed with the community's help.
Furniture, appliances (including the recent donation and installation of a large oven), paint and labour were all donated by local businesses and community groups, including Port Waratah Coal Services, Orica, Woolworths Mayfield, Aldi and Bunnings.
School staff also successfully applied for a $2,500 Barnardos Children's Support Program Enrich grant, which will be used for further improvements.
The cafe is a hive of activity each week; a welcoming space where students learn to cook under adult supervision - but perhaps its busiest day is Friday, when the cafe serves up a $2 meal deal using produce from the school garden, eggs from the hens and donations from local supermarkets.
The cafe also hosts Year 6 farewell celebrations, including a sit-down meal and a disco; a Mother's Day morning tea; and weekly meetings to plan Aboriginal activities and events.
It has more than served its purpose as a school community hub, and will continue to do so in the years to come.
(This article first appeared in the The Newcastle Weekly).