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 Helensvale are:

Amy O'Rourke

Children's Tumour Foundation
Courageous. Empathetic. Admirable

Amy O’Rourke’s son William has Neurofibromatosis (NF), a condition that causes benign and malignant tumours to form throughout the central nervous system. As a mental health nurse, Amy’s first instinct has been to fight for greater understanding of the condition and to advocate for him and other families living with NF. Despite being a busy Mum and working full-time for Queensland Health, Amy has taken on a leading role with the Children’s Tumour Foundation who represent families with NF. “I use my time to help others understand NF, to fundraise for a cure and to support families of newly diagnosed children in particular. It is a lonely journey, but I hope my positivity helps others to get through the tough times," Amy 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 Amy is successful, the Children's Tumour Foundation will create a new patient registry to help identify both adults and children who would benefit from clinical and support services, as well as future research initiatives.


Barbara (Barb) Wood

Boob Buddies Inc.
Passionate. Determined. Caring

Barb Wood is offering a much-needed service for patients with cancer. Research shows cancer can spread faster when patients are under stress, so she founded the charity Boob Buddies to provide free, weekly in-home counselling. Thanks to Barb, patients and their families are relieved of huge levels of stress. Prior to COVID-19, Barb would give freely of her time to give talks within the community to introduce them to Boob Buddies and encourage donations. Boob Buddies has become even more critical during the COVID-19 crisis, as it is a cause of anxiety among cancer patients.

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 Barb is successful, Boob Buddies will use its grant to help more patients and their families deal with the emotional side-effects of cancer.


Jane Padden

Christmas Presents for Kids in Care
Inspiring. Hardworking. Dedicated

Teenagers in residential care are often the forgotten children of the welfare system and may be longing for a foster home. Jane Padden is doing what she can to ensure that nearly 400 young people feel remembered this Christmas, thanks to her charity Christmas Presents for Kids in Care. While Jane can’t meet the kids because of their circumstances, their carers report the gifts are eagerly anticipated and bring huge smiles to their faces. “By providing a gift for them on Christmas Day, we want them to know that someone is thinking of them with kindness and love and wishing them the very best life can give them.”

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 Jane is successful, Christmas Presents for Kids in Care will use the funds to buy large quantities of items like headphones, t-shirts and make-up.


Melanie (Mel) McKenzie

Harrison's Little Wings
Compassionate. Passionate. Available

Melanie Mckenzie is devoted to supporting mothers who have been given a grim diagnosis during pregnancy. She founded Harrison's Little Wings in 2010 following the birth of her fourth child, Harrison, who lived for only 28 hours due to an incurable condition. As Harrison had been diagnosed at his 20-week scan, Melanie and her family faced months of emotional turmoil before this birth. "Harrison's Little Wings is designed to hold the hand of these families, providing them with compassion, understanding, guidance and friendship," says Melanie. Melanie also successfully advocated for the Gold Coast University Hospital to improve its model of care.

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 Melanie is successful, Harrison's Little Wings will use its grant to launch a project aimed at providing entertainment packs to mums in hospital. It will also use the funds to cover ongoing costs.


Simone McKeown

The Sanctuary Refuge
Caring. Passionate. Inspirational

Simone McKeown has opened her heart and wallet to help women and children fleeing domestic violence from all over Australia. She received minimal government funding and put $1.3 million of her own money into building the retreat-style refuge. Simone has designed the refuge so women and children can bring their pets, as she knows leaving animals behind adds to their distress.

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 Simone is successful, The Sanctuary Refuge will use its grant to fund a roof over the children’s playground.


Vicky Rose

Nerang Neighbourhood Community Centre
Passionate. Dedicated. Tireless

Vicky Rose never rests when it comes to helping those in need, living by the motto that if she can help, she will help. As the coordinator of the Nerang Neighbourhood Community Centre she has plenty to do, but still finds the time for every person in crisis who walks through the door. Vicky has been known to use her spare time to help those in need, such as delivering food to an elderly couple living in their car who are ineligible for government support.
"I do what I do because I can, and therefore I should," Vicky 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 Vicky is successful, the Nerang Neighbourhood Community House will use its grant to provide more free food to those in need.


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

Recognising all our 2020 nominees

View all of the nominees and their organisations

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