Story & photo Eve Jeffery
Jeff Herman has been with Byron’s Uncle Project for only 18 months and was last week honoured with the ‘The Rick Newman Trophy’, the most prestigious of the Uncle awards given to a member who exceeds expectations as a positive male role model.
The Uncle Project’s aim is provide support to families who are experiencing distress due to the emotional and developmental needs of their sons.
The one-on-one mentoring relationships are nourished by ‘uncles’ who give their time to interact, work, learn and play with the boys.
This award was given to Jeff for his overall participation and positive role-modelling in the past year. He has helped build the fanciest cart at the annual Billy Cart Derby, showed kids how to fish and turned many a frown upside down.
Jeff is very humble about his win; he just likes to hang out with the kids.
‘I don’t think I really deserve Uncle of the Year because it’s a group thing,’ says Jeff. ‘All the guys with Uncle are awesome and I’ve met some really great mates.
‘It would be really hard to draw a line with the Uncle group because there are some really great men out there.’
Jeff says he likes passing along blokey stuff to the future generation of men. ‘I enjoy teaching kids new skills. I get so much out of that. I am a more of the outdoorsy, hiking, camping and fishing sort of Uncle.’
Mother of project ‘nephew’, Naomi Schuelein, says that it has been helpful to her to be involved in the project.
‘It’s good for my son Falilou to have really positive male role models in his life. There is a real consistency there.
‘When he comes home he has such a happy good energy going on and it’s just great for his self-esteem and team building and so many other skills that’s he’s learning, and just to be around really good men.’
For more information on how you can become involved with the Uncle Project, visit their website: www.uncle.org.au.