Need pro bono construction or design skills?

A chance encounter with an Australian, on a train in Europe, led Canadian engineer Margot Matthews to Perth where she enjoyed a stellar career in engineering, before recently deciding to combine her experience, knowledge, skills and values to help community groups realise their dreams.

It was 1987, when Margot Matthews met the Australian and their quick 15-minute chat led her to a 25-year-long engineering career with Western Australian’s leading companies.

However, a few years ago, Margot Matthew decided she needed a change, not only to balance family responsibilities, but to realise her dream of helping community organisations realise theirs.

Margot Matthews is now managing director of an NFP that connects built environment professionals, including architects and builders, with community groups that need pro bono services.

The concept is reasonably simple, the execution is a little trickier, Ms Matthews explained.

“Basically, I introduce community groups, that need design, construction skills and advice to built-environment professionals.”

Ms Mathews recently matched the organisation Arup with an Aboriginal organisation in the north of Western Australia.

“Arup recently completed engineering work, on a pro bono basis, for the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC) in Newman, Western Australia,” Ms Matthews said.

“Arup found their ‘payback’ for doing this work went far beyond anything they could have imagined.

“The organisation’s staff members had immense satisfaction from doing the work and their level of engagement with AMHC clients and the project was palpable.

On a deeper level, the project enabled Arup to bring meaning and real connection to their Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Ms Matthews explained.

AHMC was of course thankful, with its founder Devon Cuimara, last month travelling to Perth from Newman to launch Arup’s RAP.

Ms Matthews said she was always delighted to see how is able to ensure employees build their skills and develop new, professional relationships and experiences that lead to future work opportunities.

To prove its validity of the model and establish a firm foundation, Ms Matthews has provided her services, on a pro bono basis, for the past three years to ensure the organisation has grown.

The engineer works from an office in Dalkeith, that is supplied. However, going forward she is looking for a sponsor to pay her a salary.

“We need to find about $320,000, each year, over the next three to five years. The money would pay for my salary ($80,000) plus a support worker with $200,00 earmarked for a website and marketing and possible expansion interstate.)

Ms Matthews will be presenting a case study on cross-sector collaboration and partnerships at this year's Social Impact Summit 2018 on Thursday, July 19.

Contact Margot Matthews at   0422 532 789