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 Penrith 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 Penrith. 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 Penrith are:
Graeme Banks: Mama Lana's Community Foundation
Reliable. Devoted. Honourable.
At over 70 years of age, Graeme has become a pillar of support in the Penrith community for those less fortunate. Working as a volunteer at Mama Lana’s Community Foundation, Graeme helps by cooking and providing meals, care and assistance to homeless and disadvantaged. The $10,000 grant would go towards Mama Lana’s utility costs and ongoing expenses, allowing Graeme and the team to continue to deliver their much-needed services to the community.
Amanda Barnes: Top Blokes Foundation
Optimistic. Ambitious. Impactful.
Amanda is a passionate volunteer at the Top Blokes Foundation, dedicated to improving young men’s mental health and well-being. With current rates of suicide and domestic violence alarmingly high, young men need direction and support to make positive choices. Amanda and the team at Top Blokes provide mentoring sessions to disconnected and vulnerable young men, providing guidance and a safe space that encourages communication. If selected as a Local Hero, the prize money would assist Amanda in establishing an online program that would reach thousands more as well as continue to deliver mentoring programs across the Penrith region.
John Boccanfuso: House with No Steps
Selfless. Passionate. Cherished.
House with No Steps is one of Australia’s leading disability service providers, dedicated to empowering people with a disability to live life with greater choice, control and freedom. John has tirelessly and selflessly dedicated 44 years of his effort to raising money and awareness for House with No Steps and its mission. He has become an upstanding role model in the community, known for celebrating differences and generating positivity and inclusivity. If chosen as a Local Hero, the $10,000 grant would go towards purchasing vital equipment to remove roadblocks currently standing in the way of people with a disability achieving their dreams, including a wheelchair accessible vehicle to provide freedom for those in group homes.
Maree Cairns: Zonta Club of Nepean Valley Inc
Committed. Driven. Selfless.
Maree is a retired teacher and active member of the community, who applies her expertise working with The Zonta Club of Nepean Valley to empower local women and young girls. As a Chair of the club’s major event ‘WomenAlive!’, Maree leads a team of volunteers to provide local women with opportunities to participate in a range of activities to inspire and improve their quality of life. The Local Heroes funding would be used to support the ‘WomenAlive!’ event, provide educational scholarships to local women and support recovery from breast surgery.
Kevin Finlayson: No Boundaries Art Group
Passionate. Committed. Inclusive.
Kevin is well-known member of the community and the volunteer co-ordinator of No Boundaries Art Group, a collective of artists with a disability from Penrith and the surrounding areas. The mission of the group is to help people find an identity and purpose as a practicing artist, rather than being defined by their disability. Kevin is described as committed to his values and passionate about inclusion. If selected as a Local Hero, the $10,000 grant would help keep the program open, by contributing to the cost of professional art teachers who provide weekly tuition for No Boundaries.
Colleen Vassallo: Blue Datta Foundation
Humble. Devoted. Courageous.
Colleen is the co-founder of Blue Datto, a road safety education foundation that aims to protect the lives of young Australians. Following the tragic death of Colleen’s 17-year-old son Philip in 2015, Colleen and her family established Blue Datto and the award winning ‘Keeping Safe’ program that is delivered to thousands of adolescents across NSW. The program’s mission is to empower young people to make better choices on the roads as drivers and passengers. If chosen as a Westfield Local Hero, the grant will allows Colleen to be able to deliver the life-saving education program to another 500 students in the local community, continuing to save young lives.