Take Bruce, who volunteers his time sharing his 30-plus years of experience in electronics, so young Logan people can make the recycled electrical innovations that Substation33 is renowned for creating.
“They say kids these days are technological natives, and we are technological immigrants,” Bruce said. “I mean we had black and white TVs when we were young and that became colour. We had the first computers in the early 80s. Whereas the kids now, technology has always been there.
“Because my generation saw technology change, we had a bit more of an opportunity to see how things work. In today’s world, if technology fails, you throw it away and buy a new one. Kids are not taught to diagnose problems. The solution is to buy a new one.
“My generation looks at why technology isn’t working. Is it the power? Is it turned on? Have you got an input and an output? Is there a burnt smell? These are procedures that you need to go through to diagnose and fault-find.”
Substation33 manager Tony said the circular economy required older residents to share their problem-solving skills and knowledge with the younger generation.
“Without intergenerational talk, we are going to lose the talents of people like Bruce and that is a big problem,” Tony said. “That’s why we offer opportunities for older Logan residents to get out of their homes and teach the kids of Logan.”
Bruce has been part of Substation33’s altruistic volunteering program for two years.
It’s a program that encourages older Logan residents to share their knowledge and skills with young people, through shoulder-to-shoulder mentoring.
Mentoring is natural to Bruce. He worked in the electronics and computer field for years, which saw him write user manuals and train others.
A number of years ago, ill health forced Bruce to retire from his work. Soon after, Bruce’s wife noticed he didn’t want to participate in social activities. Depression was sinking in.
“I first heard about Substation probably three years ago, through an article at the local library,” Bruce said. “My wife told me, ‘Go down and see what this place is about.’ She can’t shut me up about the place now.
“Electronics has always been my first love. It’s good to be able to get back into it in a way again. Where there is not the load of having to be there at 8 o’clock in the morning and be there until 5 o’clock. Sure it would be nice to have work and be paid, but I’m getting value out of what I do here. It’s broken me out of the depression that I was getting into.”
Find out more about Substation33 on the YFS website: www.yfs.org.au/social-enterprises-2.