Meet your Westfield Local Hero Finalists
In the first year of the Westfield Local Heroes program, we have received an overwhelming response and many heart-warming stories after asking the Burwood community to nominate individuals who they believe promote social wellbeing and harmony in their communities.
We congratulate every one of our nominees and recognise the important contribution they make to the local community.
The community has now cast its vote, the outcome of which will determine the three successful 2018 Westfield Local Heroes for Westfield Burwood. Each of their affiliated organisations will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work, program or activities.
The successful Westfield Local Heroes will be announced on 13 August.
Your six finalists for Westfield Burwood are:
James Collins: St Paul's Parish Pantry
Selfless. Inspirational. Effective.
James has worked to assist the homeless and impoverished in Burwood for almost 8 years through his work with St Paul’s. He has created much-needed outreach programs including the St Paul’s Parish Pantry and the St Paul’s Lifejacket program, providing food, clothing and inclusion measures for the homeless, refugees and those in need of support. These initiatives have expanded to provide other much-needed items for the homeless such as torches, sleeping bags and solar lanterns, socks, beanies and toiletries. James also provides shelter to the homeless, including storage lockers, and laundry and shower facilities. If successful as a Westfield Local Hero, the $10,000 would contribute towards the additional storage that is required for the St Paul’s Parish Pantry following its expansion. It would also be used to equip an area that can be used for a variety of community groups and organisations.
Rose Cox: Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation
Brave. Tireless. Advocate.
Between juggling her responsibilities as a carer her university studies and an internship, 18-year-old Rose volunteers countless hours of her time supporting children and youth who live in families affected by mental illness. From 8 years of age, Rose attended Kookaburra Kids herself, and is now a volunteer and Young Ambassador for the foundation. Approximately 23% of Australian children have a parent with mental illness, and the risk of these children developing their own mental health issues ranges can be particularly high. Volunteers like Rose give those children a much-needed support network, and help to develop coping skills and self-esteem. The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant would provide 15 children with the opportunity to attend a Kookaburra Kids camp where they can connect with others living in similar circumstances, learn about living with mental illness and importantly have some much-deserved fun.
Roman Deguchi: Inner West Neighbour Aid
Compassionate. Persevering. Visionary.
Roman helps improve the health and wellbeing of the elderly and disabled in the local community, by assisting them to live safely in their homes for as long as they are able. Through his work with the Inner West Neighbour Aid, Roman connects people who are passionate about helping others with people who need support to live independently at home and remain active in the community. He is responsible for over 70 volunteers, and last year Roman and his team transformed 271 gardens in Sydney’s Inner West for people who are no longer able to care for their homes due to physical limitations. If nominated as a Westfield Local Hero, the $10,000 would contribute towards the ‘5 Senses Therapy Garden Project’ in Rhodes Park, which will develop and implement accessible, educational workshops for people of all ages and ability. Planned sessions will include cooking classes, gardening activities, guest speakers, gentle exercise and intergenerational sessions.
Wendi Etherington: School as Community Centre, Lakemba
Committed. Energetic. Welcoming.
Wendi coordinates the Lakemba School as Community Centre (SaCC), where she has worked for more than 15 years. Through her countless hours of dedication, she has helped support many families with young children, creating a welcoming space where they feel connected to the local community. Many of the families are new migrants to Australia, and the SaCC provides programs such as playgroups, English lessons, multicultural cooking classes and work readiness courses. Wendi has also introduced new initiatives including the ‘Paint Canterbury REaD’ project which aims to increase access to books for children from families with low incomes. The $10,000 grant would assist Wendi to provide a free music program for families with young children, employ casual staff to assist in running programs that benefit the community, and to update the centre facilities in order to provide a more pleasant space.
Dianne King: The Exodus Foundation
Inspirational. Kind-hearted. Invaluable.
Dianne has dedicated over 60 years and 2,000 hours volunteering her time to those less fortunate. She is described as the backbone of The Exodus Foundation volunteer base, where she assists at the Loaves & Fishes Restaurant in Ashfield to prepare free meals that nourish the poor and homeless. Dianne also volunteers her time at the foundation’s music and art workshops, providing much-appreciated social connection and recreation. With the Westfield Local Hero $10,000 grant, Dianne and the team would feed close to 2,000 disadvantaged people in the community, and create more than 300 emergency food parcels for struggling individuals and families.
Jacque Weaver: Communities for Communities
Dedicated. Passionate. Committed
Jacque is a volunteer with Communities for Communities, where she improves the lives of high support needs students, their families and teachers at Lucas Gardens School. Lucas Gardens provides educational programs for students with a range of conditions, including intellectual and physical disabilities, sensory impairments and complex medical conditions. Since 2007, Jacque has organised numerous fundraising events, such as an annual Ladies Lunch, an annual ball and other community events that raise funds and support the school. The $10,000 grant would help to improve the technology available to students at Lucas Gardens, including iPads that would be used as teaching aids and learning instruments, and devices for a number of the students that are non-verbal communicators.