Grafton man’s $6.5M project of passion and purpose
TYSON Donohoe was born and bred in Grafton, has a background in juvenile justice, a plumbing trade and is a former rugby league player for the Grafton Ghosts.
What else could you possibly want from the manager overseeing the construction of the Clarence Valley’s first Police Citizens Youth Club for the past 14 months?
An organisation focused on diverting young people away from crime, housed in a $6.5 million refurbished complex, designed for high performance athletes to strive for excellence, in a town where such facilities previously did not exist.
This week saw the labours of his passion bear fruit when the doors to the $6.5 million facility opened to members for the first time.
“I’ve got a lot invested in this,” Mr Donohoe said.
“I don’t have any financial investment here, but I have 12 to 14 months of emotional investment.
“Doing that whole process from the ground up, including the renovation and construction side of it, has made me acutely aware of everything in this facility.”
The carrot for Mr Donohoe was the opportunity to include a high-performance gym in the centre, something he said was lacking in the Clarence Valley.
“PCYC presented me with a unique opportunity and one of the reasons I come on board was because they said they’d give me freedom to run things the way I saw they needed to be run,” he said.
“What I wanted to be able to offer our kids, our community, our athletes was an elite place to train, and that is what this is.”
Located on the mezzanine level above the basketball courts, the first boxing classes were conducted out of the high performance gym on Monday.
Mr Donohoe hopes the gym combined with a hi-tech classroom means athletes won’t need to move away in search of elite training facilities.
“Now we can facilitate training programs for an elite level and stop sending our kids four or five hours up or down the road to get it,” he said.
“If you can find me a better venue in Northern NSW, by all means you train there. But if you can’t and you want the best, then you need to come here. We are a high performance centre.”
However, perhaps the most important aspect of the project’s overall viability and success will lie in Mr Donohoe’s networking and recruiting skills and willingness to seek advice.
“It’s about engaging experts,” he said.
“I’ve got a little bit of overlap everywhere, but I wouldn’t class myself as an expert anywhere.
“I know enough to get me in trouble, but I also know enough to get me out, and to find people that do know how to answer the questions. That’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Mr Donohoe has built a staff of six who each bring specialised skills, including reuniting with his sister Jamie-Lee Donohoe, who has returned to her hometown from managing Planet Fitness in Newcastle to be PCYC Grafton’s gym co-ordinator.
Ms Donohoe’s decision to apply for the position came as a complete surprise for her brother.
“I was going through job applications when we put out EOYs and I’m thinking this is all a bit familiar,” he said. “I glanced back up at the name, and it’s Jamie-Lee Donohoe. Surely there’s not two of them?
“So that’s how I found out my sister was applying for a job here.
“I can’t wait to work with Jamie. I worked with my dad for a long time prior, so I’m quite well versed to working with family.
“My specialty is engaging with youth. Jamie’s specialty is managing large facilities.
“I am aware I have some shortfalls in the game. What I was looking for was someone who could fill the holes.
“It wasn’t a matter of employing six people and saying ‘let’s go’. Every application was combed through to make sure we got the best side to make it work because this is very new.
“Grafton has no idea what a PCYC is. They’re about to find out.
“PCYC had no idea what Grafton is, and they’ve had to find out.
“It’s been a long, long 14 months. But to produce what we’ve produced, I couldn’t be happier. It’s a very proud moment.
“I’m a local boy born and bred, in what I commonly refer to as God’s country. That’s where we live.
“That’s why PCYC employed me, to make sure what we delivered wasn’t PCYC Sydney, it was PCYC Grafton.”