Their organisation is a hands on trade based organisation with an aim towards pre apprenticeship skill training in a variety of fields. Their target group of participants are men and women who may have disabilities, disadvantage and are generally in marginalised minorities with in our community. As a result of these factors they often suffer low self-esteem, lack social skills and cohesion, and do not have a sense of inclusiveness with the community in which they live.
They are people who feel they have no skills with low expectations for themselves and often have people around them who also hold low expectations for them, even though they care for the individual deeply.
It was clear from the outset of the talk that Jessie and Dean were very passionate and clearly focused people who had recognised a need, believed that they could do something about it and established a plan to develop a skill base amongst the participants making them more work ready with raised employment prospects. This would raise self-esteem, develop a sense of inclusiveness and networks for participants, as well as raise personal expectations of ability and help those around them see the capacity to achieve in those taking part.
 The organisation set up to do this, DC Man Cave, is a not for profit organisation that survives solely on grants and the generosity of community individuals and businesses, either with financial support or more commonly with items in kind for use in the programs. They also are registered as being able to be included as part of the plans for individuals receiving support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Participants are generally introduced to DC Man Cave either through word of mouth or community support services that are aware of DC Man Cave’s existence.
The Program has members attending at least one day per week, they are picked up from home by vehicles owned by the Man Cave and delivered home at the end of the day. There are four instructors currently mentoring those involved and all hold qualifications that suit them to the activities they present. Groups are no larger than 8 with two mentors assigned on every occasion so they have an actual 1 to 4 instructional ratio, not only a factor in the learning process, but also in terms of safety, as all the usual OH&S requirements are strictly observed.
Activities that occur center around, Construction, Farming, Helping the Community, Cooking and Art, Communication and Life Skills, Environmental & Recreational activities coupled with educational tours of industry and manufacturing work places.
Apart from the acquisition of skills for the work place, a major aim of the Organisation is to prepare and assist individuals for independent living, many of them have high levels of care to maintain them in their homes, something which may reduce or disappear over time and therefore independence in all aspects of self-care are extremely important targ eted outcomes of the program.
To bring about the changes in self-esteem, confidence and engagement can take a significant amount of time, especially when one considers just how long many of the participants have been disengaged from community and work, so small steps and repetition are the order of instruction. However Dean said it was rare that a day didn’t produce little signs of attainment and progress which for the four instructors motivates them to step up the next day, every day.
The letter DCs in the organisations name are of significance they stand for Democratic Collective, it means that the focus involves the first steps in inclusiveness where everybody is free to put forward ideas, that discussion and decision making within the parameters of resources and safety, are all considered and taken on board. Dean firmly believes that this is a key component in the successes of the Program and is a big part of the “buy in” of the participants for all the activities they undertake.
In congratulating Jessie and Dean for their wonderful and informative presentation which showed a passion for their work, he asked for a show of hands from those present who had heard of DC Man Cave. Not one Rotarian in the room put their hand up which is extraordinary given not just the importance and need for the work, but also the success being achieved.
The moto for DC Man Cave sums it all up “We Do Stuff, we give a stuff!”