WelCom October 2023
Challenge 2000 – Wellington’s Catholic-centred Youth Development, Community and Family Social Work Agency – have had a busy and change-filled time over winter. Since June, Director Damian Dempsey left to become the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference Executive Officer and Kitty McKinley returned as acting CEO. Kitty who founded Challenge in 1988 knows our mahi and charism well.
We have a team of 40-plus staff, numerous volunteers and many partners and benefactors.
Economic, mental health, anxiety and other pressures in the community have led to a greater demand for our services and programmes. It appears more young people are not attending college and growing requests for an alternative education service have resulted in us providing a ‘mini’ intensive education programme. Jacob Bang our counsellor is providing this service to local Catholic schools, colleges and the community.
Sr Marie Roche and Hine Hough work tirelessly in our Food Bank to provide food and resources for those in need.
Our Marist Challenge Internship project is a standout programme. Mitchell Cheu said at his graduation: ‘Challenge is about Felise [Challenge youth worker] and the Mission team’s hard-working attitude; being dragged out of bed to run a liturgy at St Ben’s and St Bridget’s early in the morning; packing hampers in our foodbank and mentoring and tutoring young people who have had a rough life. It’s about change and transforming our community. I thank Challenge and Marist for providing the programme and this opportunity.’
A visit to us in Johnsonville last month from Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Greg O’Connor local MP for Ohariu provided an excellent opportunity to speak about the needs and aspirations of people in our country and community. Chris Hipkins was approachable, friendly and interested in what our staff and young people had to say. It was a valuable opportunity for our rangatahi to meet the country’s leader and expand their worldview in the lead up to the general election.