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People Who Shape Our Community: Suzanne Booth

February 20, 2020

Featuring: Suzanne Booth, Hibiscus Coast Youth Centre - Hibiscus and Bays

The current Executive Director of the HBCYC, Suzanne Booth, is an experienced manager. Previously a senior executive for Ansett and Qantas National Airports and In-flight Services, she also served Rodney District Council as Manager Service Delivery for District Assets and Facilities, General Manager Waiwera Thermal Spa and Resort and managed Gulf Harbour Country Club out of receivership. She matches her commitment to youth development and the Centre’s mission, commencing in 2009, Suzanne sought out to avoid insolvency action at the Centre. After 2 weeks analysis, and business planning, she convinced the board and Auckland Council to pursue success for the youth in the district by re-building a ‘Safe Space for Youth’ – Keith Morris’s vision.

Suzanne and youth worker, Dan

The HBCYC now provides mentoring, safe spaces to hang out, and youth services with over 1,000 connections each week, directly improving youth and community health, safety and wellbeing. Suzanne secures funding of over $400K per annum, to support a fast-paced organisation operating at minimal costs. She is motivated to keep this organisation well presented, compliant and funded so the community can continue to benefit from the positive results in collaboration with so many organisations, parents and schools. The Centre is moving forward with a very specific strategic plan, which is anticipated to help with a more sustainable financial position over the next 2 years, alongside the experiences of their Executive Committee. They are excited to bed down a position that supports the future population growth and give the HBC Youth Centre a long term future.

All the team and volunteers work consistently, and tirelessly to achieve the best outcomes for all youth. Suzanne says, “I am proud of the people I work with to achieve the positive effects for not only youth but their whanau as well. The task is difficult, although we work as a team, supporting each other and most importantly not judging those struggling with their own health, financial status or wellbeing. Working with these people and the supporting community and organisations that support our youth’s future success is the most rewarding part of this role. Together we can do it…..”

Suzanne has worked as a senior executive with up to 1000 staff in multitask roles and found them exciting and challenging. The work undertaken under a Charity Status, is the same as any other business although it is assumed should be operated with mainly volunteers and is more difficult to manage with the minimal staff, multitasking of everyone’s roles, training to deliver a high level of governance verses achieving the most important outcomes for our youth. Expert senior roles are hard to fund and are vital for the success of the HBC Youth Centre. These people must be passionate about youth, experienced, reliable and mostly financially rewarded for their roles. Our community is not in a position mostly, to offer their expert time without being paid. Securing funds for these roles is difficult as the funds the Centre raises need to go into the demand for services for our youth.

Suzanne advises, “We have improved delivering to the demand for service with visitation increasing from 240 per week, 8 years ago to now over 1000 per week. Receiving the current level of operational support from many funders ensures this demand for service can be maintained, assisted by 90 to 240 hours of volunteer time per week and delivered at a very low expense level in comparison.”

Approximately 70% of the Centre’s services are FREE to youth, families AND the community. They are more than a preventative mental health program provider, and provide a spiderweb of prevention services that has become the linchpin for many collaborative organisations, from local businesses to Central Government, helping achieve success for youth. The stories are broad, varied and many.

The Centre must raise over $450K per annum to meet the current level of service. At the moment, they raise 1/3 of that themselves now ($24K, 8 years ago), and the rest is through donations and grants. 

Sustainability financially is elusive considering the FREE nature of services provided, reflected in their Constitution and Strategic Objectives. Suzanne says, “We have already significantly improved income as you can see, however, increased demand, increased Free Services, increased costs. - - It is important to accept this business is not like a Leisure Centre where everyone pays a fee, but a large youth facility, open each day, for free, for youth to feel they belong and get support from experienced supervisors while developing youth leaders and future leaders.”

Pride is a huge part of the outcomes for youth. They take pride in their Youth Facility, keeping it clean and tidy. While this is valuable and important, the facility continuously needs upgrading and renewing. There are many areas that require support and help, such as a new roof, upgrading the youth café kitchen, plumbing upgrades, electrical renewals, outside facility water blasting and painting and replacement flooring. The Centre are preparing a full Capex and Renewal replacement program this year and will seek funding. However, if any organisations are looking to give back, the Centre would love to help them do that.

Suzanne comments, “We feel it is very important to acknowledge everyone that helps us help youth, including youth themselves. WE love to tell our story and how individuals can be helped through life or how they can help us help others. This needs a good chat, so come along and have one.”

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