The sharpest Toole in the shed

ROSS Toole will be recorded in the city's history as a "committed and compassionate" man for his tireless work in helping fellow residents.

It all began eight years ago, when he joined the community kitchen feeding residents who were hungry every Friday night.

"I was retired and wanted to keep myself active in the community and help other people," he said.

Mr Toole said he was also involved in Meals and Wheels at the Good Shepherd Church and loved to work with his hands.

Whenever there was something that had to be fixed at the church, he volunteered his time to work as a repairman and warden.

"We learned most of the tricks of the trade on the farm," he said.

"You learn to be a jack of all trades and a master of none."

Mr Toole drove the Riverside Food Bank bus to ensure Dubbo residents did not sleep on an empty stomach.

Each week he would pick up and drop off residents at Riverside Church.

Residents who were doing it tough, single mothers and widows, received a helping hand from Mr Toole who did small jobs around the house.

"Most of these people can't afford to pay a tradie to do it so I decided to use my skills to help them," he said.

This included painting, fixing doors, mowing the grass and laying tiles.

Mr Toole's greatest achievement was establishing the Dubbo Community Men's Shed in November 2008.

He said a group of men heard about the work of the Men's Shed around the country and visited one in Forbes to see how they worked.

Initially he thought it was a place for farmers who struggled emotionally but realised they served all men who needed help.

"There are a lot of men out there who are hurting and not many places where they can get help," he said.

"This is why the Men's Shed is very important and helpful to the community.

"When men start to talk with other men, they are more likely to open up and share what's hurting them."

Mr Toole shared one experience of a middle-aged man who had a tough time at school and suffered from depression while he was growing up.

At first he was apprehensive about coming to the Men's Shed but now he was grateful he came as it lifted his sprits.

"He's a lot better now, far more outgoing and confident," he said.

"He comes to a group of men who he can have fellowship with and he helps other guys who've been in similar situations."

The president of the Dubbo Community Men's Shed called for more members.

The shed was a a place to play cards and have fun enjoying the fellowship of other men.

Mr Toole said the best part of volunteering was knowing he had helped someone.

One of the challenges was finding enough time to serve the community and not neglecting other important duties.

For his dedicated work to help the needy and less fortunate, he was recently awarded the Dubbo City Community Service Award.

Mr Toole was humble in accepting the award and said there were people who looked after family members as a full-time job who did not receive an award.

"Volunteering is not a chore, it is something you enjoy doing," he said.

He encouraged young people to be active and help out in the community and promised they would not be bored if they came to the Men's Shed.

"There's always something for you to do and you will feel satisfied," he said.

abanob.saad@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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