Our Story


Mission Statement: To engage, encourage and empower young people

Our Vision:  Empowered young people in our community who are loved, accepted and cared for. 

Emerge is a social impact organisation that provides work experience, mentorship programs and support for disengaged & at-risk youth in the Toowoomba & Darling Downs Region.

The project combines healthy catering services to provide work experience and training for young people, a dedicated youth drop-in space and innovative mentoring programs aimed at empowering young people towards a healthier and more positive life.

Emerge was founded by Jen Shaw, a local Toowoomba personality and social entrepreneur who overcame many challenges and disadvantages in her youth to become a positive and valuable member of the community. Jen is committed to providing the same opportunities to the young people of Toowoomba in a community-driven, non-government and non-religious platform that complements existing services in the region.

In 2017, we ran our first official fundraising campaign over 30 days, with a target of $60,000 to purchase an existing food van, while we didn't raise the target amount we did manage to raise $33,442 to allow us to open the dedicated youth hub and take lease of the van for 12 months so we could get started.

In 2018 we officially formed a 7 member incorporated association, and management board to ensure sustainability and success into the future. 

Our team of change makers includes: 

Chair: Brett Mackie

Secretary: Lauren Guymer

Treasurer: Teresa Smith

Fundraising Manager: Ryan Woodfield

Business manager: David Cooper 

Gratitude Manager: Andrew Phelan

As a social enterprise, we put profits made within our catering business back into our youth and community programs as well as provide a dedicated youth space where young people can access safe mentors, resources and have a place to call their own.

Every time you order catering from us, hire our kitchen or host an event in our space you help us provide real work experience, training and positive outcomes for Toowoomba’s most vulnerable young people.