Our Story

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 commence boxing and fitness and take lease of the van for 12 months so we could get started.

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

In 2019 Emerge purchased a cafe & cooking school next door to our youth hub, formerly known as “The Sauce” with the assistance of the red rose fund and a second crowd fund campaign that raised $20,000 in 9 days.

After 2 & 1/2 years in our Station Street cafe, in 2021 Emerge made the move to our new home at 1 Railway Street. In May 2021 our brand new board launched our first official strategic plan accompanied with our official vision & mission as well as values agreed upon by our board, senior staff and young people.

Our amazing management board is comprised of the following.

Founder & CEO:  Jen Shaw 

Chair: Penny Hamilton

Secretary: Chelsea Saldumbide

Treasurer: Samantha Crestani

General Director’s: Mary Berthelsen, Geoff Reid.

As a social enterprise, we put profits made from our 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 visit our cafe, 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.