20 Jul
  • By Cain Hartung

The Road To Nigel

I first started at The Y-House Foundation Inc. in October of 2019. I was transitioning out of working in retail and was determined to pursue my true passion in life, which is not-for-profit work. I grew up in New York City where I became involved in volunteer work with student-run community service groups and the Ronald McDonald House of New York (RMDH).  

My connection with RMDH had actually started many years earlier; I had lived there. My younger brother was battling a very rare form of childhood cancer and my family & I travelled from Australia to New York City for him to receive specialised treatment. As we had nowhere to live, RMDH offered my family a place to stay during these tough times. After moving out, I returned as a volunteer to help those going through similar circumstances.  

This type of volunteering instilled my passion to help others because my family & I wouldn’t be where we are today without the help & kindness of complete strangers. If you can’t pay someone back, pay someone else forward.  

When I first found out about the Y-Work program, I was genuinely shocked to discover approximately 6,000 young Australians had been forced to live in aged care. It didn’t make sense to me that this was happening, so I was quickly eager to join the Y-Work team because it was obvious we needed to improve the lives of these young people. 

I was excited and a little nervous when I first started at Y-House. There were all these statistics about young people but no database detailing where they actually lived. Kim & I built the program from scratch by developing frameworks for program execution. Phase 1 was all about Inception & Planning. Kim has extensive experience in project management and harnessed that expertise to produce high quality frameworks to get the program up & running quickly and swiftly. The next step and biggest challenge in our eyes would be Phase II of our program – How to locate young people living in aged care. 

Kim sought data from a variety of sources and pulled together a spreadsheet that listed out the locations and RACFs that were most likely to have young people living in them. I hit the jackpot on the very first call. 

The RACF sitting on the top of that list was Glendale Aged Care and lo and behold we discovered a young person living there, a 45-year-old man named Nigel. Nigel expressed his interest to join the Y-Work program and we were quickly organising a meet and greet. Nigel is a humorous, sincere, determined young man who desires a better quality of life and is “sick of playing video games all day long”. A few weeks after our first session with Nigel, he unfortunately became quite ill and was admitted into hospital over the Christmas break. Everyone was concerned this might hinder Nigel’s participation, but he is too strong to let that stop him. We met with Nigel in the new year and after reassuring him that we will support him through any hiccups or hurdles, he became reinvigorated and decided to sign on as Y-Work’s very first official program participant. 

We have now begun to execute Phase 3 of the Y-Work program: Fostering Employment, and yes, we have a framework for that too! We are now working alongside Nigel to surface up any areas of interest for employment and will soon begin building his CV and employer profiling. We have also identified a number of other young people looking to participate in the program. 

About The Cain Hartung