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 Hornsby are:

Ava

St Lucy's School Wahroonga
Courageous. Generous. Selfless

Nine-year-old Ava has a deep-rooted desire to be inclusive and lives by the motto "No one gets left behind." She supports young people in her community in a number of ways. For example, she reaches out to younger children who feel insecure at school, and she is forever raising funds and donating her pocket money and toys to good causes. Ava is particularly passionate about supporting the children with learning disabilities and special needs who attend St Lucy’s School. One of those children is Oliver, Ava’s close friend. Ava's current fundraising project is to help St Lucy's build wheelchair-friendly vegetable gardens.

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 Ava is successful, St Lucy's School will use its grant to build, stock and maintain the 16 gardens.


James Thomas

Feel the Magic
Empathetic. Passionate. Leader

James Thomas believes that with the right support, great things can come from tragedy. "I like to think that I'm a good example of this," says James, who felt bereft after losing his parents as a young adult; his father in 2005 to cancer and his mother unexpectedly on his 31st birthday in 2011. After his mother passed away, James sold his successful signwriting business and launched Feel the Magic, which supports children and teens through grief. The non-profit runs mentor-led programs for bereaved children and teenagers who have lost a parent, sibling or guardian.

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 James is successful, Feel The Magic will sponsor 10 mentors and 10 bereaved children or teens to participate in the Camp Magic program.


Jeni Hayes

Mission Australia – Northern Sydney West Youth Homelessness Service
Dedicated. Inspirational. Humble

Jeni Hayes feels honoured by the opportunity to have devoted 30 years of her life to community services. “Journeying with people of any age as they overcome barriers and achieve their goals is a privileged space to sit in,” Jeni says. She is primarily inspired by her work at Mission Australia, where she has been supporting young people at risk of homelessness for more than 10 years. “Our team feel privileged to have assisted many young people to overcome the impact of family breakdown, family violence, school disengagement, unemployment, mental illness, drug and alcohol use, homelessness and recidivism.”

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 Jeni is successful, Mission Australia will buy food and travel vouchers and pay for additional staffing hours.


Pauline Rogers

Raise Foundation
Dedicated. Selfless. Inspiring

Pauline Rogers is a dedicated mentoring leader at Killara High School and Turramurra High School. She manages the Raise Foundation's Ismo (In School Mentoring Opportunity) for students at the schools who need support. Their challenges include anxiety, depression, bullying, sick relatives, self-harm and financial hardship. Students attend the program voluntarily and under Pauline's caring watch receive one-on-one support from the same mentor every week for 22 weeks. This helps them engage with their education and improve their relationships, resilience and self-confidence.

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 Pauline is successful, Raise Foundation will use its grant to help fund an Ismo program, including mentor training, participant supervision, program evaluation and catering.


Thomas (Tom) Dent

StreetWork Australia Ltd
Confident. Compassionate. Professional

When young people in Hornsby find themselves in need of help, they can be sure that StreetWork's Tom Dent is there for them. Tom leads a team of six youth workers who provide outreach support for at-risk youth. "We get onto the streets and take a unique approach to building rapport with vulnerable young people to help them overcome their personal barriers." Tom's colleagues respect him for being a great leader and being driven to help others and for always trying to improve StreetWork’s service. "We use our one-on-one mentoring program Kickstart to help teens set goals to realise their potential and to create real change," says Tom.

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 Tom is successful, StreetWork will use its grant to fund promotional activities and to run art programs in the area to engage young people.


Wendy Escott OAM

Studio ARTES
Humble. Generous. Forerunner

Art teacher Wendy Escott OAM was determined to provide adults with disabilities with meaningful opportunities to develop their talents. She co-founded Studio ARTES in 2000 in a double garage in Hornsby with no funding, 16 keen members and six volunteers. Twenty years later, there are more than 260 members and 100 staff across three sites. “As we grew in numbers, we grew as a community,” says Wendy. “Being part of the community prevents feelings of isolation.” The former Hornsby Citizen of the Year says her greatest pleasure has been to witness the growth and achievements at the studio.

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 Wendy is successful, Studio ARTES will use its grant to help compensate for the burden and extra costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


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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