Vietnam veteran Tony Walker was "really, really depressed" when he stopped working, but four years ago found purpose in life again after joining the Portland Men's Shed.
"It was the best thing I ever did," he said.
When the Lithgow Mercury sat down with some of the men from the Portland Men's Shed it was easy to see the camaraderie between them.
The Portland Men's shed officially kicked off in 2010 by Ron Bidwell and Phil Hill with another half a dozen men.
"It started as a men's health initiative because the government had difficulty accessing isolated, single males who had issues with drugs, alcohol, and poverty," member Robert Houlison said.
"So people who are single, widowed, divorced, live alone can come here and feel as though they have a purpose."
As the group grew, its members began to help the community in lots of different ways.
"Dave Edwards helped start it off, but we hang art for the Portland Art Society, which is one of our biggest contributors for the year," Portland Men's Shed coordinator Norman Richardson said.
"We also run a sausage sizzle outside Bunnings and Food Works, mainly to gain a public profile and to get new members."
Some of the many projects the Portland Men's Shed have created around town include creating a garden table for Blinky Bill's preschool, minor house repairs for veteran's widows and creating brain-stimulating games and items for Tabulam Cottages.
They also created and painted old seats at Mt Victoria station, as well as repairing the plaque; something the men are quite proud of.
"We don't ever want to take work away from other people, but if you need a light bulb changed we can do that," Mr Richardson said.
Mr Richardson said the Men's Shed was well regarded in Portland.
"We had over $1000 worth of tools stolen but then someone put them on Facebook and the police were able to find them," Mr Walker said.
"It just shows how supportive the community is and you know the community is looking out for you."
It isn't just the community looking out for the Men's Shed, but the members looking out for one another.
"We don't pry into each others lives. While a psychologist does things face to face we do things shoulder to shoulder," Mr Richardson said.
"We always make sure there are two people at a machine, that breaks down isolation, but it is also about safety."
Mr Walker said that each member had a different skill, whether that be electrical engineering, computer skills, or sheering.
With a grant from EnergyAustralia, the men have been able to travel to different Men's Sheds around the state including Northmead, Bathurst, Mudgee, Oberon and Mount Victoria with the opportunity to exchange ideas.
"We can also do an equipment swap, since we get donated items we might have a few of, we can give them to the other sheds for something we don't have," treasurer Peter Hayman explained.
But at the moment the group has been put on pause for any big projects they may have, simply because they don't have the room.
"We are going to be moving into the Mick Moore pavilion but can't do anything until we get the floor levelled," Mr Houlison said.
In 2018 the group was given a $10,000 grant through the Federal Government's Stronger Communities Program to help restore the outside of the building.
The men repainted the building, rust-proofed it and put in new supports to stabilise the building that was close to collapse.
"If we hadn't pushed these walls back out and put in supports we would've lost this 100 year old building, but now it should stand for another 100 years," Mr Houlison said.
"We have stabilised the south wall, replaced the roof and undertaken remedial drainage work to stop water egress that had already caused rot to structural timbers."
The men have already contributed around $39,000 to maintain the building, with the money coming from grants, fundraising, man hours by men's shed members and community service supervised work.
"We are waiting on grants really but with all the drought relief grants coming first it's understandable that we have to wait, but that just shows the impact the drought is having on communities as well," Mr Houlison said.
Once some money comes through, the men have some big ideas for their new shed, both inside and out.
"We would like to have some car parking spaces, and some gazebos out the front so that we can come together on a weekend and have outdoor entertainment," Mr Richardson said.
"Inside we would like a commercial kitchen, toilets, a tall sliding door, a meeting room, painting room, and areas for welding and so forth."
The group is also looking at having the machines on wheels that lock in, so they can move them to do certain work.
"That would mean having hanging powerpoints for the electricity that we would have to get installed," Mr Walker said.
"We would like to make rocking horses and do these big projects but we just haven't got the room, so there isn't a lot we can do at present time aside from the odd jobs.
"And once we move that will also allow us to gain more members."
The group meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am-3pm and on Saturdays from 10am-5pm.
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