House of Hope's Food Barn was the venue for a community mentoring breakfast yesterday as part of the inaugural Rising Leaders Program run by Leadership Generation Australia founder Peter Buckley.
Mr Buckley approached House of Hope and the Smith Family when he was co-ordinating the first week-long residential program for emerging leaders.
The idea was for the first cohort of 12 emerging leaders to co-ordinate a community initiative where they could each mentor a young Illawarra resident who may have become disengaged from education.
"The premise of the Rising Leaders Program is for participants to take action in their personal lives, in their organisations and in their community," Mr Buckley said.
"We are grateful for the Hope Centre and Smith Family partnership broker Ann Green who went out to the partnership brokers who were able to source students from local schools and social workers."
Mrs Green said it was a great opportunity for young people to talk to young inspiring leaders, get their stories and ask them about their education and career paths.
"As a partnership broker it has also been a great experience to bring together business with the community sector, schools and youth organisations to share an event," she said.
House of Hope Food Barn chief executive Gally Dakers said it was great to be able to provide the host venue for the mentoring initiative.
"We just thought Peter's vision was amazing," she said.
"Our passion is to raise people up in the same way."
Illawarra Coal mining engineer James Royal was partnered with Warrawong High year 12 student Brianna Goodwin, 17, who wants to study psychology at university.
Mr Royal was at the same stage of life several years ago and shared his knowledge and experience.
Pillar Administration human resources manager Kristy Duffy said the program was helping her develop leadership skills by being open to the experiences of people such as Ebony Gorwood, 17, who had just moved back to Wollongong from Townsville and was looking for a traineeship.
Ebony said Mrs Duffy was a great help because she had done a traineeship when younger and was now in management.
"I want to find something that I can keep going up from," she said.
"I found out about this from my social worker and Southern Youth Family Services."