Kastel hands over Point Zero leadership

March 3, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Rabbi Mendel Kastel has handed over control of Point Zero to new CEO Tony Bates.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel and Mayor Andrew Petrie p. Henry Benjamin

The organisation founded by the dynamic Sydney Jewish House rabbi to help local teenagers with drug and alcohol problems is to become a national non-denominational organisation.

Over to you: Tony Bates and Rabbi Mendel Kastel p. Henry Benjamin

Tony Bates told J-Wire: “We are launching a Foundation which will give us a capital base in the middle so that local communities throughout Australia will be able to build a local franchised Point Zero . That’s the model we want take everywhere. At the moment there are only three communities in Sydney…Northern beaches, Inner West and North Shore. There will bo denominational attachment whatsoever…we will simply be dealing with kids in trouble.”

At a handover meeting incorporating the launch of the new Point Zero Foundation in the gardens of Woollahra Coincil, Mayor Andrew Petrie recalled the time Rabbi Kastel approached the Council about helping the growing number of troubled teenagers “hanging” in Double Bay on weekend evenings. Rabbi Kastel was aware that many of them had drug and alcohol problems and had difficulty in dealing with them.

Mayor Petrie told the meeting: “He approached me 13 years ago about  placing a van in Double Bay to assist the children with their drinking and drug habits, I thought ‘this will go nowhere’…but now it’s everywhere!  I have absolute admiration for Mendel’s work. He has become a great friend.” He told Rabbi Kastel directly: “Mendel, you are a fantastic organiser and a very dedicated man.”

New CEO Tony Bates told the meeting that he wondered if Rabbi Kastel could have ever imagined the impact Point Zero was to make over the years ahead when he placed the first Point Zero van in Double Bay. He said: “Tonight is about honoring the thirteen years of hard work Mendel has put in to Point Zero.The vision he created in 1997 has itself created an enormour footprint from which we will go forward from here.. His commitment to kids has had an enormous impact not only in his own community but across the entire community. Tonight we launch an enduring legacy…The Mendel Kastel Point Zero Youth Trust. The goal will be for communities throughout the country to use their own Councils, their own mayors and their own local heroes to make use Point Zero services to improve the lot of kids in their own areas.  Within ten years we would like to see to see the extraoridary vision of Mendel Kastel manifest itself throughout Australia

He presented Rabbi Kastel with a  plaque honoring his twekve years chairing Point Zero.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel and the Point Zero van

Rabbi Mendel Kastel told the meeting he was very humbled by the honour. He paid special tribute to those who had given their time to assist in the running of organisation singling our Ken Gresham who had been with Point Zero since its inception and David Krite who he said “taught me the ropes”. He told the meeting: “Twelve years ago we had to apply for a temporary DA, which we still have, to set up the van in Double Bay, and as part of the application they asked us how much we would be charging for the coffee and doughnuts. They could not believe their ears when we told them we were giving them away free. Thanks to Andrew Petrie’s vision, the Council cut through the red tape to give us the opportunity to help the troubles kids in Double Bay. The sense of community extended beyond the van when we worked with the Council and the police to contend with the issues being created by house parties which had become out of control. Kids were getting hurt. Property was being damaged.”

Ken Gresham addresses Rabbi Kastel as Mayor Andrew Petrie looks on pic: Henry Benjamin

Kastel made mention of the “fantastic” contribution made by the volunteers.

Founding Board member Ken Gresham said: “Our objective is to change the word. To change society to help young people get through the challenging period in their lives when peer pressure produces drug, alcohol and sexual problems. This takes money so that is why we have created the Foundation.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel remains on the Board of Point Zero. He said: “There is no doubt I will miss my role of being the man to make the quick decisions and to keep Point Zero on an even keel….but I am more than confident that the organisation is now in extremely capable hands.”


One Response to “Kastel hands over Point Zero leadership”
  1. Barry Smorgon says:

    Mazaltov Mendel, the work you do in the Community is to be respected & admired.
    Your vision to start this project & see it succeed is quite inspirational.
    Well done.
    barry Smorgon

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