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 Geelong are:

Collin Peebles

Geelong Food Relief Centre
Passionate. Driven. Kind

Geelong Food Relief Centre CEO Collin Peebles is passionate about helping people in need. Collin manages about 90 volunteers and works alongside them so that 37,000 people each year have enough to eat. He also spends his own time giving presentations to groups and clubs to boost support for the centre.

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 Collin is successful, the Geelong Food Relief Centre will use its grant to help fund a new forklift trolley.


Debi McKinnis

Heartfelt: Giving the Gift of Photographic Memories
Respectful. Thoughtful. Generous

Debi McKinnis gifts grieving parents precious photographic memories of their child. She is admired for her grace and commitment to helping families who have experienced a stillbirth or have a child with a terminal illness. “Being with families and creating gentle images of their child is a privilege,” Debi 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 Debi is successful, Heartfelt will use the grant to cover the cost of 133 photographic sessions and 11 cameras for hospitals to use when Heartfelt is not available.


Jake Janson

Ocean Mind
Inspiring. Energetic. Altruistic

Jake Janson left a career in construction to become a youth worker, knowing that the opportunity to make a difference, was an important one. He trained with Ocean Mind, which runs free surf therapy programs for young people experiencing mental health challenges, social isolation and disabilities. Jake is now the program coordinator for the not-for-profit, and his energy and contagious laughter mean the kids have the best day ever while learning to surf. “Ocean Mind has changed my life. I wake up every day and pinch myself about what I get to do for a living,” he 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 Jake is successful, Ocean Mind will use its grant to run additional programs, buy equipment and provide transport to the young people who need it.


Marsha Uppill

Arranyinha Pty Ltd
Fearless. Audacious. Inspirational

Proud First Nations woman Marsha Uppill is a justice warrior who is striving to close the social and health gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Her strategy is to educate businesses and other organisations, so they understand their potential impact and are inspired to help bring about change.

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 Marsha is successful, Arranyinha will use the grant to develop a Sistas Circle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of all ages to increase their self-confidence, connection and identity.


Peter Wheeler

Uniting Barwon
Dynamic. Empathic. Inclusive

Photo courtesy of: Hadeel Al Badran, @hs.stories.photography

Peter Wheeler has created an op shop with a difference. The Norlane Op Shop is a welcoming place for people to socialise and seek help. Peter is proud that tons of goods have been saved from landfill, and all profit goes to an emergency fund for those 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 Peter is successful, Uniting Barwon will fund initiatives including a shopfront revamp, a storage shed and laptops for locals to do job searches.


Reno Demicoli

EdConnect Australia
Inspirational. Dedicated. Caring

After losing his sons, Reno Demicoli turned his attention to helping at-risk children by volunteering as a school mentor. Thanks to his dedication, the` kids now have an encouraging adult to speak to. Reno says helping members of the community is adding meaning to his golden years.

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 Reno is successful, EdConnect will use its grant to train and place at least 30 new volunteers to help students in Geelong schools.


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

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