BILL and Carol Holsworth are the embodiment of community spirit.
The Strathdale philanthropists donated $300,000 to Haven; Home, Safe's Sidney Myer Haven project.
When complete, the 23-unit housing development will provide affordable accommodation to vulnerable Bendigo residents.
Dr Bill Holsworth said he and his wife were motivated by the desire to build a sense of community in Bendigo.
"When we came to Bendigo and moved into a new subdivision, the neighbours were so friendly; we had coffee and party and barbecues and street events," he said.
The couple hope the Sidney Myer Haven development will foster a similar environment.
"People coming in here will have neighbours they can relate to," Mrs Holsworth said.
"We're hoping they will help each other; with babysitting, borrowing things from each other."
The Holsworths hoped their philanthropy will inspire others to dig into their own pockets.
"We would like to see people with a bit of extra money to help where they can and see the potential to do good," Dr Holsworth said.
Mrs Holsworth said community members needed to be prepared to give back.
"If you don't put back into the community, you're not a proper citizen," she said.
"I have volunteered all my life but sometimes giving time isn't always what is needed.
"Sometimes it has to be money."
The Holsworths have lived in Bendigo since 1976 and have raised four children in the town where Dr Holsworth taught environmental ecology and biology.
The usually verbose Haven; Home, Safe CEO Ken Marchingo said he was left speechless by news of the Holsworths' generosity.
"I'm never speechless. I could talk under wet cement with a mouthful of marbles," he said.
"Bill and Carol are fabulous people and what is even more fabulous is that they are just Bendigo residents.
"They're just people who live in a normal suburban street and live a normal suburban life and have decided they could help."
Mr Marchingo said the Sidney Myer Haven development would be the only one of its type in Australia.
"There's any number of specialist homelessness program that work with families to help them with parenting skills; there's any number of homelessness programs that work with homeless people to help them with foundational learning; there's any number of homelessness programs that work with people who have had compromised lives to get their living skills up to speed but you don't get any that do all those things," he said.
The project is expected to be completed in July.