There is a sign when you walk into Taperoo Community Centre that reads, ‘Enter as strangers, leave as friends’.

Speak to anyone who attends classes there and they will tell you it’s true.

Ask Dorothy Crofts and she’ll take it one step further; she’ll say ‘friends’ should be replaced with ‘family’.

“I am happy, contented and I feel as though I belong for the first time in my life,” the 72-year-old says.

“This has become my second home, my second family.

“The only time I won’t be here is if I’m hospitalised or I’m sick in bed or I’ve left this earth.

“I’m on top of the world here.”

Dorothy has endured a lot of trauma in her life, mainly at the hands of an abusive family.

The suffering left her depressed, anxious, lonely and timid.

Just over 12 months ago a community health worker suggested Dorothy attend a class at Taperoo Community Centre as a way of improving confidence and reducing social isolation.

She started with craft and has since been involved in many classes including computing, painting, meditation and personal development.

She has also recently started one of our literacy classes to improve her reading and writing.

“Coming to these classes has helped me to believe in myself and that I am capable of learning,” she says.

“I feel as though I have something to look forward to – life has opened up for me.

“If this centre wasn’t here it would break my heart.”

Dorothy isn’t the only one who has found a sense of belonging at the centre.

A diverse group of people travel from surrounding suburbs to take part in the vast array of classes on offer each week.

And there’s always room for more.

Dorothy has a word of advice for anyone considering joining a class: “Go for it – you won’t be sorry. It will be the best move you have ever made.”

Classes at Taperoo Community Centre, Yongala St, Taperoo, are 9am-5pm weekdays during the school term. Phone 8248 2122 for details.