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 Doncaster are:

Catherine Haining

Giant Steps Melbourne (GSM)
Compassionate. Selfless. Encouraging

Music therapist Catherine Haining is an innovator when it comes to educating children with autism, combining songs and traditional learning to great effect. She played a crucial role in establishing Giant Steps Melbourne (GSM), a school for children with moderate to severe autism and intellectual disabilities. Catherine is Head of Therapy Services at the school and uses music to help the students to understand and retain numeracy and literacy skills. And music helps them share how they feel when they can't find the words. "In some instances, students who do not speak will sing," Catherine 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 Catherine is successful, Giant Steps Melbourne will use its grant to buy musical instruments and a laptop to produce music.


Gavin Blue

Heartfelt
Generous. Compassionate. Of service

Professional photographer Gavin Blue is always willing to donate his skills for a good cause, but he goes above and beyond for grieving parents. After losing his own daughter Alexandra to stillbirth in 2006, Gavin founded Heartfelt as her legacy, to provide free photographic memories for families to treasure. It's been a labour of love, and he has inspired 340 photographers across Australia and New Zealand to volunteer their time. Collectively, they have gifted precious photos to more than 11,000 families. "No family should go home from hospital without a photographic memory of their child or baby," Gavin 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 Gavin is successful, Heartfelt will use the funds to produce online training program, including videos, for new volunteers and hospital staff so it can meet the demand for its services.


Jayne Clarke

Big Group Hug Ltd
Passionate. Engaging. Inspiring

Jayne Clarke volunteers about 50 hours a week in her determination to end child poverty. She has helped hundreds of children from birth to 12 years through the Big Group Hug. The non-profit organisation provides clothing, nappies, prams and other material aid to vulnerable families. Along the way, Jayne has encouraged schoolchildren to pitch in by collecting items on behalf of the organisation. So far, 500 students from 10 schools have done their bit. "I believe it takes a village to raise a family and I try to facilitate that wherever I can," Jayne 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 Jayne is successful, Big Group Hug will use its grant to establish a Hugger's Club in at least 10 schools, including buying classroom materials and hiring a project manager.


Loretta Bolotin

Free to Feed
Vivacious. Determined. Inspirational

After recognising that unemployment, social isolation and discrimination are the most significant issues facing refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants, Loretta Bolotin decided to do something about it. The former caseworker co-founded the innovative non-profit Free to Feed to provide dozens of newly arrived people with paid training and employment. Loretta's social enterprise offers training in a variety of hospitality roles, with catered events, pop-up events and cooking classes led by the participants providing the revenue to pay their wages. In four years, Loretta has provided 16,500 training hours and generated over $450,000 in wages to the participants.

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 Loretta is successful, Free to Feed will use its grant to employ a marketing consultant to attract more paying customers and create more training opportunities.


Matthew Cronin

Pat Cronin Foundation
Tireless, Humble, Astonishing

Matt Cronin is courageously campaigning against senseless violence in memory of his youngest son, Pat, who passed away after a single coward punch in 2016. The loving father has risen above community outrage to be a voice of calm and encourage others to think about their actions. Pat, a physiotherapy student, was 19 when he was hit from behind in a senseless act of violence while enjoying a quiet night out. Matt and his wife, Robyn, started the Pat Cronin Foundation to end the coward punch. "We are determined that no other family should suffer as we have," Matt 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 Matt is successful, the foundation will use its grant to give 16 presentations at local organisations that cannot afford the usual fee.


Robert (Rob) Pradolin

Housing All Australians
Dynamic. Proactive. Passionate

Developer, Robert (Rob) Pradolin, has brought together like-minded business people to launch a volunteer run organisation that cuts through red tape and sets up temporary homes for vulnerable women. The national initiative is called Housing all Australians (HAA) was launched last year. HAA negotiates a 3-5-year lease, at nominal rent, for buildings that are awaiting redevelopment approvals or are standing empty and repurposes them into short term “pop-up” transitional accommodation for vulnerable Australians, but with a particular focus on women over 50 years of age. “We have helped housed more than 58 women in an empty aged care facility in Albert Park and have now secured a 5-year Lease of a large home in Box Hill that had been empty for several years. It will be completed this year and will house another 6 women” Rob 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 Robert is successful, Housing All Australians will use all its grant to help fund the refurbishment and provide a fully completed and furnished home to house vulnerable women.


If you need support, please phone Lifeline: 13 11 14

Recognising all our 2020 nominees

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