Bootstraps founder Sam Kavanagh, with Gonzo Leary and John Weisz, at the Gatton headquarters.
Bootstraps founder Sam Kavanagh, with Gonzo Leary and John Weisz, at the Gatton headquarters.

Veterans charity needs sponsors to keep ‘head above water’

WHEN Sam Kavanagh's father passed away, he inherited the leatherworking tools his old man had used as "therapy" during and after his 40 year career in the air force.

Those skills were handed down too when Mr Kavanagh was a young boy and he still cherishes a pencil case he made with his dad Brianwhen he was 13.

Now the 44-year-old is passing on those skills to ex-service men and women to help them fight off the black dog.

He established the veteran's charity Bootstraps in 2017 and moved from his shed to a headquarters in Gatton last year.

Mr Kavanagh spent 20 years in the army and serves as a reservist.

"(My father) took all of his tools when he went to Vietnam," Mr Kavanagh said.

"They're the tools I have now.

"We started with the intent of being able to help people with art therapy. I found it was very helpful for myself dealing with personal issues.

"I remember teaching my son and realising that dad had taught me. I could provide that sort of situation for somebody else … to create that creative mindset as opposed to the black dog mind."

 

Gonzo Learey receives some help from John Weisz at Boostraps in Gatton.
Gonzo Learey receives some help from John Weisz at Boostraps in Gatton.

 

The centre is open to anyone, not just veterans, to walk in and take part.

They welcome participants from Ipswich to Toowoomba and bookings only need to be made for set classes.

Mr Kavanagh said the group are desperate to secure sponsors to keep them running.

"I hate asking (for help)," he said.

"The last 12 months have been some of the toughest that I've faced mentally because of the stress of the financial situation.

"We are keeping our head above water but only just and it wouldn't take much to sink us.

"As a Deductible Gift Recipient, (sponsors) would get every dollar back at tax time."

Mr Kavanagh said between 30 and 40 people come in to the Gatton base every month.

"A lot of people think leatherwork is just a knife pouch, or a belt or a wallet," he said.

"We can do anything that you want … photo frames, horse gear, custom bridles.

"The only thing you can't do with leather is rush."

He said working with leather can do wonders for your mental health.

"It's not about wanting to make a belt in a day and then that's it," he said.

"The time they spend doing this is more valuable than getting it done … it could be two days spent creating something in a good mindspace."

The centre is located at 4 Golf Links Dr, Gatton.

For more information, contact Sam Kavanagh on 0405 044 205 or visit the Bootstraps Facebook page.


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