The Invercargill Eye reflects on the past year and selects its community champion.
It's been a great year for Southland Spirit of a Nation co-ordinator Gerry Forde - helping communities around Southland raise more than $120,000 for projects across the province.
But next year, Forde - The Eye's Community Champion of the Year - wants to go bigger and better, raising even more money for the South.
"I think we can grow it further," he said.
"It's been a dream come true - making community fundraising exciting and profitable."
It's all part of a change of direction for Spirit of a Nation in Southland. In the past it has focused on promoting the South. Now it was all about helping communities.
"It's about maximising fundraising efforts and getting groups to work together to share the workload and share the profits."
Since July, four community events have been organised involving Wyndham and Edendale, Mossburn and Lumsden, Tuatapere and districts and Limehills and Dipton. From that, $121,000 was raised, with 18 community groups receiving funding.
"I've been involved in MC work for 26 years - and after all of those events I've seen what could be done - so I just invented this and it seems to be working well."
Mr Forde is keen to see communities establish their goals and he will assist them in working out a plan on how to get there.
"It's about working together and sharing the load. If there's a need to restore the hall and raise funds to maintain the local pool - this is spirit's way of contributing to building community assets."
The vision fitted well with Venture Southland, which already did a lot of planning for community amenities, he said.
"It's about applying something practical with real outcomes for people that can enhance their lives."
- Invercargill Eye
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