Engaged with the community

Written by Kerrie Alexander

When other kids were out having fun with their mates, a then 12-year-old Luke Strochnetter would spend his weekends volunteering to create run sheets, and plan and seek sponsorship for community fundraisers.

It’s a hobby that paid off for the now 20-year-old who runs two very successful marketing and event businesses including 360 Degrees Marketing, and Occasions by the Bay; a pop-up picnic business offering luxe picnic & party setups on the Fraser Coast.

He’s also a part-time supervisor at The Bear restaurant.

“I love planning events because even though there is so much hard work involved, you get to see the end result and you get to see people enjoying themselves,” Luke said.

“That’s why I do it. Seeing kids laughing and adults singing along or enjoying themselves really fills my heart.

“I also love event management because the only thing that limits you is your imagination.”

While the success of this young entrepreneur is astonishing on its own, Luke’s volunteer work within the Fraser Coast is what makes him truly unique.

This generous young go-getter has an absolute heart of gold!

At 17, he packed his bags and travelled with eight members of the Bayside Christian Church to Africa where they helped build a community centre in a village in Uganda.

He described the experience as “life changing”.

“It was such an eye-opening experience to me and really opened my eyes to how lucky we are up here.

“Seeing how happy they are with so little, really stuck with me.

“It was an amazing experience and something that I will speak about for years and years to come.
“I think it is just important to use what we have to make a difference.

“People often say that they don’t have money or goods etc to donate, but we all have something we can bring to the table.”

Luke was a driving force behind Cancer Council’s Relay for Life for a number of years and raised over $10,000 for the cause.

“Everyone involved in Hervey Bay Relay for Life are just so kind-hearted and community minded.

“We used to do so many crazy and fun things to raise funds and it was just so special to be involved and be able to raise awareness and funds for a cause that seriously affects so many people.”

In 2020, Luke organized the Rockathon: Bushfire Relief Concert in Hervey Bay, which saw a 1000-strong crowd attend to raise much-needed funds for those affected by the Bushfires.

He managed the Afterglow: Youth Week Event in Hervey Bay in 2019, Bush and Beats in 2019, Hervey Bay Family Fun Day in 2018, and the Country Campout Weekend in 2017 and 2018, and proudly walked the Esplanade as a Baton Bearer as part of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

He also assisted with running the 2019 annual Christmas carols and is this year a co-cordinator of the 2021 Hervey Bay RSL Carols by Candlelight, set to take place at Seafront Oval on Saturday, December 11.

Why? Simply to utilise his media and marketing skills to bring joy and love to others.

“I absolutely love Christmas and the true message behind it about Jesus being born.

“Christmas is such a special time and brings people together. I jumped at the opportunity to be involved with the Hervey Bay RSL Carols by Candlelight.

“It’s an honour to be able to help produce this event as it is such a loved event and tradition by the local community, and I just want to help out in every way I can to make sure this event continues for years to come.

“I can’t wait to sing and dance … off stage of course,” he said with a laugh.

Luke’s belief in helping his fellow neighbour has always been the driving force behind his commitment to volunteering.

Without charity events, not-for-profit groups and individuals just wouldn’t exist, he said.

“Fundraisers are vitally important to communities like ours and sometimes they are the main way organisations or individuals gets funding.

“If I can help out by organising and managing an event, I do and will.

“That is the small way I can help out important causes and give back. “These events are only so successful though because people jump onboard as volunteers, entertainers and sponsors.

“So many people work so hard to make our local events a reality.

“I love Hervey Bay because there are so many amazing community organisations, church groups, and events that give people the opportunity to serve our community and give back.

“We probably won’t change the world, but we can change the people’s lives in our world or sphere of influence.

“Whether little or large, every bit can make a difference.”