Thank you for voting for your Westfield Local Hero

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Thank you for voting for your Westfield Local Hero

We congratulate all of our finalists and recognise the important contribution they make to the local community. The successful Westfield Local Heroes will be announced on 27 October.

Westfield Local Heroes is a community recognition and grants program, connecting and enriching local communities.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the outcome of the public vote determining the three successful 2020 nominees for every Westfield centre. Each of the affiliated organisations of the successful heroes will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work to thrive. Westfield will award 126 grants across Australia and New Zealand – totalling $1.26 million.


Your finalists for Westfield Burwood are:

Abla Kadous

Islamic Women's Welfare Association (IWWA)
Incredible. Inspiring. Humble

Seventy-year-old Abla Tohamy Kadous has overcome financial restraints and other challenges to create the Islamic Women's Welfare Association (IWWA). She leads 50 other volunteers and staff and is active in the activities of the thriving organisation she founded 17 years ago. “IWWA has over 1500 members from 56 nationalities and their welfare has always been my focus,” says Abla, who started volunteering 35 years ago. The association helps Islamic women feel welcome and participate in their communities. It offers anti-discrimination forums, school-readiness programs, cooking classes and events for the elderly. It also has a food program for people in need.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Abla is successful, the association will hire a van for the food service and erect a shelter for people in the queue.


Carron Johnston

Stepping Out Program
Dedicated. Passionate. Positive

Carron Johnston is driven by a profound desire to help women survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She lives this every day as volunteer chair of the Stepping Out Program, a small organisation with seven social workers who help survivors overcome the trauma and stigma of abuse. "Similar to cancer, it is likely everyone knows someone who has been affected by this trauma. However, unlike cancer, no one wants to talk about it," Carron says. Carron, an accountant, has been on the board of Stepping Out for four years, initially as treasurer.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Carron is successful, the Stepping Out Program will use its grant to support and educate family members and carers and provide a greater understanding to employers and the broader community about the effect of this trauma.


Cheryl Gabin

Burwood Community Welfare Services Inc
Generous. Compassionate. Selfless

Cheryl Gabin grew up in a family affected by domestic violence and knows the physical, emotional and psychological toll it can take. After 10 years in the corporate sector, Cheryl starting volunteering at Burwood Community Welfare Services, a part of the Inner West Family Support Service. She facilitates a program called After The Storm, which provides a supportive and nurturing space for women, affected by domestic violence, to grow their self-belief, become change agents and heal past traumas. "Over the years I have seen participants gain strength to move on and make life changing, empowered choices," Cheryl says.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Cheryl is successful, Burwood Community Welfare Services will use its grant to help fund advocacy and support projects.


Jenny Smith

Raise Foundation
Resilient. Brave. Hero

Jenny Smith has been a Raise Foundation mentor at Burwood Girls High School for three straight years. She gently encourages students to overcome their barriers by generously sharing her own story of overcoming adversity, including anxiety and depression. “I love inspiring and encouraging others,” says Jenny. Raise Foundation volunteer mentors give up two hours a week for 22 weeks to help young people become resilient, capable and connected by ensuring that they feel heard, valued and supported. “I do what I do because it gives me a sense of purpose,” Jenny says.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Jenny is successful, Raise Foundation will be able to offer a mentor program to at least five additional students at Burwood Girls.


Marcel De Maria

Gift of Bread
Committed. Inspiring. Compassionate

Driven by a spirit of compassion, Marcel De Maria has laboured to establish a charity that rescues thousands of surplus bread loaves and rolls every day and shares them with people in need. He started Gift of Bread in 2007, run entirely by volunteers they supply bread to more than 200 sites, including refuges, boarding houses, nursing homes, community groups, soup kitchens, food vans, special schools, churches and outreach programs. "It's important to extend the meaning of community, especially during hard times," says Marcel. Last year, Gift of Bread rescued over 160,000kg of bread from landfill. "The greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to 74.4 years of electricity for a home."

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Marcel is successful, Gift of Bread will use its grant to help cover operational costs.


Rosemary King

St Paul's Anglican Church Burwood
Empathetic. Selfless. Caring

If you ask Rosemary King why she goes to great lengths to help others, she'll most likely say: "I do what I do because there is a need, and it's no good just acknowledging a need, you have to act on it if you can. It's the right thing to do." As a lay minister at the Parish of St Paul's Anglican Church in Burwood, Rosemary makes a seemingly endless list of contributions to the community. She coordinates the Parish Pantry, the Community Hub and Life Jacket programs, each relying on volunteers to provide essential support to people in need.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. If Rosemary is successful, the church will use its grant to stock the Parish Pantry.


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