Jeff Percy, a member of the breakfast Rotary Club of Ivanhoe, noted the changed experience of a glass of wine with his meal at Rosanna Rotary in contrast to the orange juice and cereal at Ivanhoe. But his observations had a wider synergy in his vocational role in West Heidelberg. Jeff was the third speaker to bring together the three threads of community support, philanthropy and education in West Heidelberg.

The CEO of Olympic Adult Education Inc. which was formed in 1992, Jeff noted its mission statement to promote a sense of community in West Heidelberg as well as individual vocational, social and personal opportunities. In achieving these objectives, adult literacy and basic education and English speaking classes were supplemented with vocational education and training courses and other general adult education and community development activities. Many of his students had lead tough lives and had had limited opportunities in the past to acquire even the most basic of skills.

With a background in education, Jeff served as Principal at the Holy Name Primary School at Preston for six years and, after a term in the corporate sector, found his way back into Vocational and Education training where he spent fifteen years at Swinburne University of Technology prior to his appointment at West Heidelberg.

The needs and challenges are daunting. Providing services from three different sites, he works with 50 volunteers in a multicultural community with courses dealing the basic spelling, language and maths skills at one level and vocational training and pre-accreditation courses at the other (and everything in between). Many of his students present special needs whether intellectually based or as migrants and refugees and their social interaction is a key element in the success of the programs.

In pursuing those objectives, an association has been formed with the Exodus Foundation (Brother Harry Prout) and the Salt Foundation (Roger Donnelly) to develop “Alice House” as a “home” for their students. Earlier presentations had been made to the Club with regard to Alice House and as a preliminary step, a stove had been purchased by the Club and further assistance was under review.
Chairman Ron Jenkins thanked Jeff for his attendance and acknowledged his work for the community.

Reporter: Barrie Williams 30th August 2014