Meet your Westfield Local Hero Finalists

Story

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 Carindale 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 Carindale. 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 Carindale are:

Debra Lenehan: Vision Australia

Inspiring. Energised. Enthusiastic.

Through Vision Australia, Debra volunteers not only her time, skills and experience but also her empathy and compassion to assist other people who are experiencing vision loss. Debbie was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in her mid-30s which led her to reassess her life. As a client of Vision Australia, she has experienced first-hand the support and services that are required to not only cope physically but also emotionally.

Debra participates in the ‘Peer Support Program’ and provides a supportive outlet for those living with vision loss. Debra also participates in and facilitates several Brisbane groups including ‘The Way I see It Program’, educating students at local schools. She is also a carer of the ‘PR Ambassador Seeing Eye Dog’ program and a member of ‘Friends of Vision Australia Coorparoo Fundraising & Awareness Group’.

Vision Australia’s mission is to support people with vision loss to live the lives they choose from birth through to the elderly. Given Debbie’s passion for Seeing Eye Dogs, the $10,000 funding will support the Seeing Eye Dog Program to breed, raise and train a puppy to become a Seeing Eye Dog.

Cindy Corrie: The Sycamore School

Courageous. Driven. Forward-thinking.

Cindy founded The Sycamore School to change the predicted futures of people with autism by providing holistic educational options and settings as well as supporting their families, care network and community. Her purpose is to change the cycles of dependence and underachievement of people with autism by creating a variety of educational options for them which includes providing them with pathways to lifelong support. Cindy Corrie is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ASD Learning Ltd and The Sycamore School. She supports the community she founded in countless ways; she acts as an advocate, within the public and private sectors, for issues relevant to the organisation, its services and those who the organisation supports.

As a not-for-profit school that relies on grants to fund new initiatives, The Sycamore School would use the money to fund STEM equipment. It is acknowledged that many people with autism have strong capabilities in technology and good computer skills. It is therefore essential that the school implements a STEM program that will give its students the opportunity to develop skills required to obtain meaningful employment.

Conan Visser: I Can I Will Limited

Visionary. Altruistic. Dedicated

Conan Visser, created the Brisbane born charity ICANIWILL in 2013 to promote inclusion and reduce bullying for youth suicide prevention, particularly for children with special needs. Conan's purpose is to empower every child that his charity helps, to become Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in their schools. He strives to help any child being bullied and at risk of suicide and to create a cultural change from the ground up. Conan has a commitment to each child's growth, building their resilience over time and giving them public speaking training.

As the founder and CEO, Conan is responsible for the overall success of the charity and makes the final decisions, empowers and develops corporate decisions, manages the overall operations and resources of the charity, and always leads by example.

The $10,000 will help to create 1-2 life-changing experiences for children who have been severely bullied due to their special needs for youth suicide prevention. These will make up a segment of the anti-bullying documentary and included in ICANIWILL's awareness campaign, distributed across Australian schools.

George Kambouris: Carindale PCYC

Resilient. Supportive. Loyal.

George identified through personal experience and networking that there was a substantial gap in providing the correct training and life skill lessons to young people who found themselves living life in a wheelchair. George designed a comprehensive training program that involved learning the correct skills for navigation in a wheelchair around home, school and the community.

George personally designed the program and now delivers the program to various groups, agencies and open sessions at Carindale PCYC. George is instantly a role model for others living life in a wheelchair as he sets the example of what can be done by showcasing his own life.

The $10,000 will be spent to support youth and people with a disability by purchasing additional equipment such as wheelchair ramps, basketballs, tennis balls and rackets, all equipment associated with enabling those in wheelchairs to participate in the “Living on Wheels Program”. The funding will also assist participants of the program by keeping costs minimal such as transport, indoor facility hire and personal items such as gloves required to help protect hands from all the pushing that is done with using a wheelchair 24/7.

Ken Loftus: The Sunlight Centre

Passionate. Empathetic. Caring.

Ken saw an opportunity to fill the gap in the services currently provided to youth. Suicide is the largest cause of preventable death in teenagers. Ken created the Sunlight Centre in 2017, and since then has been providing free crisis counselling to teenagers and adults with suicidal thoughts and/or self-harm behaviour.

The purpose of Ken's work is to actively support the community with face to face counselling in a safe, non-judgmental way. Ken as founder, wears many hats! He is the lead therapist for the clients, created the policies and procedures, and with support of his 3 other directors, creates fundraising events. Ken also creates and facilitates Healthy Mind Workshops that he presents to community groups to help them build resilience and gain extra coping tools for their mental health.

The $10,000 grant would help support the Therapist Program in the Sunlight Centre. The funding would allow a therapist to directly support close to 15 suicidal clients in our community over a 6 month period. Saving those 15 lives in our community stops unmeasurable ripples that would drastically disrupt the wellbeing and harmony of the community.

Ron Ould: The Lion’s Club Macgregor

Humble. Compassionate. Youthful.

Ron is a valued member of the Brisbane Macgregor Lion’s Club. He believes in the principles that the Lion’s Club uphold, the way they help the community and he works within the guidelines and adheres to the purpose and ethics set by the club.Ron's work with The Lion’s Club allows all the organisations to work together to achieve great results for the community. The Lion’s Club creates a sense of belonging and a connection that supports people in the local community, regardless of their social standing, gender, race, religion or status. It combines social, economic, environmental and cultural conditions that allow individuals and community groups to flourish and live meaningful lives.

Ron has several projects that he works on as part of his commitment to the club. Ron devotes his volunteer time to sorting out Lost Property items and donations from various organisations. Ron holds raffles within the club to raise funds for special projects and collects and delivers Christmas boxes for drought relief. Ron has the responsibility to control LAPD (Lions Assist Property Dept) and then also assists Multicap to stage their local events. Ron also controls delivery of goods to the YMCA which they sell, which helps to fund a local area breakfast program in approximately 14 schools.

The $10,000 grant would be donated to various local community groups to assist families in need including healthy food hampers for needy families in the local and neighbouring communities, to Vision Australia, Mackenzie Special School to assist with equipment for the ongoing development and improvement of opportunities for their students and to four local schools as bursaries to offer support to financially disadvantaged students identified by the school office bearers.

Recognising all our 2018 nominees

View all of the nominees and their organisation

5 trends every guy should try this winter
Winter food for your mood: food plan by Jamie Chambers

What's happening