Business owner Matt Foster says it was the spirit of a Hunter Valley community which inspired him to increase his sponsorship and charity involvements.
The Subway franchisee, who owns five stores around the Hunter, has built a host of community connections since taking on his first store nearly ten years ago.
But it was the opening of a store in Kurri Kurri that allowed him to see how important community spirit was.
“I didn’t realise until I purchased the store five years ago how tight the community is up there is,” Mr Foster, of Newcastle, said.
“When I first got up in the town, I thought ‘wow, I need to really embrace this’. It’s a very tight-knit area, I wanted to be able to give back to the community.
“Also grass roots, where a lot of Newcastle Knights players have come from, the likes of Mark Hughes. They’re still very involved in charity work there.”
Mr Foster became an annual sponsor of the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs Rugby League Football Club.
He said the manager of his Kurri Kurri store, who is involved with the football club’s ladies day, helped spur the sponsorship.
“It goes to the club to fund its operations and keep the club alive,” he said of the sponsorship.
“Every year as well, Debbie Hughes – the manager – is a founding member of the annual ladies day, so we provide Subway catering platters to that event.”
Mr Foster said the Kurri Kurri store had also run a fundraiser for the Mark Hughes Foundation, where $1 from every sub sold for a week was donated to the foundation.
Personally, Mr Foster is involved with the annual Variety Children’s Charity jet ski trek up the east coast of Australia, helping to support kids in-need.
“I do it every year,” he said. “In March this year we rode from Hawkesbury River, up through Newcastle, and carried on up the coast to Yamba. We have to raise a minimum amount of money [to enter the trek] and pay a levy [to cover costs].”
In the past five years, he has raised over $10,000 for Variety and one campaign involved staff hitting the town to help raise funds.
“I got five sites and 75 staff, I’m not always behind the counter. Asking the staff to come along and be involved was great for their moral and team building.”
Mr Foster said the trek is a wonderful way of being able to support sick kids, as the participants – many of whom are business owner – are able to contribute to worthy charitable causes along the way.
The 35-year-old said it was important to be engaged in community work and encouraged others to become involved, whether it be on a personal or commercial level.