Local gym pulls more than its weight

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By Matt Barnett


Last month, St Kilda News interviewed Donny Pelsoczy, the Youth Manager at the local Police Citizens’ Youth Club, the ‘PCYC’.

Meeting him at the gym for the first time, Donny is young-looking for his age, clean cut and apparently earnest. He tells his story in a matter of fact way, explaining what the gym has meant to him, how his life was changed and built as a result of coming into contact with it.

He explains that he first got into contact with the PCYC at the tender age of 19, that as a result of volunteering, he found himself working at the gym itself, later, going on to become a teacher and then landing his current role of Youth Manager. What he makes clear is the fact that the PCYC is more than just a gym; that his is not the only life that has been changed as a result of walking inside these walls.

From the outside, the PCYC doesn’t look that spectacular (full respect to those that built the place). A small sign stands out the front, with a mural of two men boxing painted on its outside. The inside is really not all that more spectacular either – a front counter, a room with treadmills, another small weights room, a floor out the back where ‘classes’ take place, and a boxing ring. Donny explains that the PCYC is not a body-building gym, that if anyone was into body-building they should head down the road to ‘Body World’.

He explains that the PCYC runs many youth programs for troubled kids, and is, and has been, ‘a first point of call’ for kids suffering from domestic violence, homelessness and all other issues in between. According to Donny, the PCYC serves as a support network, linking troubled youth to support facilities, everything from crisis shelter to counselling. He says that because of the PCYC he has seen many lives completely changed, one off the top his head, ‘Troy’ had many ‘issues’, but as a result of training and accepting support, has managed to get himself into the ACU (Australian Catholic University), where he is currently studying  a degree. Donny says that he has seen kids from all different backgrounds turn their lives around, some backgrounds ‘horrendous’.

He explains that the gym survives on grants, and philanthropy, and is a not for profit organisation, that without winning this support, the gym and all of its programs would fail to run, that his job within the gym is no exception.

Donny explains that his role as Youth Manager is to look after troubled youth, “to get them connected and supported”. He works with youth services and council. Not only that, he runs and facilitates workshops and ‘Block parties’. “Sometimes,” he says, “it’s just a matter of going around and talking to people.”

That the PCYC is more than just a gym is beyond doubt. Donny describes it as a ‘home away from home’, and a spiritual home besides. One catches oneself wondering what the world would be like, if only to have this sort of commitment to altruism. Here, the cliché, if everyone could be like that, the world would be a better place, seems, to this writer, to actually hold water.

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