Meet your local hero finalists

Story

Meet your local hero finalists

Read about your Westfield Local Hero finalists

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 2019 nominees for Westfield Penrith. Each of the affiliated organisations for the successful three heroes will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work to thrive. In total, Westfield will be awarding 120 grants across Australia and New Zealand – totalling $1.2 million.

Your Westfield Local Heroes will be announced here on 1 October.

Your six finalists for Westfield Penrith are:

Adam MacKenzie

Platform Youth Services
Energetic . Inclusive . Supportive

Adam MacKenzie’s mission in life is to be “the best me I can be”. One of the ways the Platform Youth Services program coordinator achieves this is by tirelessly helping vulnerable young people strive for a better version of themselves. He and his team provide 24-hour emergency accommodation and ongoing support to help people build healthy relationships and develop the skills they need to live on their own. Adam, a Rural Fire Services leader, is also the best dad he can be and is devoted to his six children, three of whom are foster children.

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 Adam is successful, Platform Youth Services will invest its grant towards landscaping the yard and developing a sports court and undercover area. “We have a lovely house, but unfortunately there were no funds to do anything with the large back yard. It looks really sad,” he says.


Brooke Wilkie

Nepean Area Disabilities Organisation
Inclusive . Passionate . Selfless

Keen footballer Brooke Wilkie leads a large team of disability support staff at western Sydney charity NADO. In 2013 she spent much of her own time setting up NADO’s Penrith Touch Football team after she realised many fans were being relegated to the sidelines because of their disabilities. Through her devoted support, the team now has 70 players who experience the joy and tears of winning and losing as well as gaining ball skills and learning about teamwork. “Young people who once had little to talk about to friends and family now have their own proud story to tell,” says Brooke.

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 Brooke is successful, NADO will use its grant to to support the team’s entry into the State Cup 2020. “It would allow myself, the team and their families to focus on preparation and training and cover all costs associated with registrations, jerseys, travel and accommodation,” says Brooke.


Cathy Craig

Penrith Community Kitchen
Passionate . Dedicated . Hardworking

Cathy Craig is synonymous with the Penrith Community Kitchen, where she was a pioneer volunteer 21 years ago and now runs the show. Thanks to her warm personality, she and her team ensure the kitchen has the feel of a big family table. It is a place where homeless people, abuse survivors, lonely folk, the poor and substance abusers find safe refuge, a hearty meal and someone to talk to. All are welcome without judgment, says Cathy, who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2012.

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 Kathy is successful, the kitchen will use its grant to cover the cost of rent as well as some grocery requirements. “Without our premises, we could not provide our services to the less fortunate in the Penrith community.”


Christy Hartlage

Connect Child & Family Services
Enthusiastic . Caring . Knowledgeable

When Christy Hartlage moved to the Blue Mountains from New Zealand, she had a 10-month-old son who didn’t sleep and no support in the area. “I would often cry wishing we had a grandmother nearby who wanted to hold the baby so I could have a shower or something to eat.” YAWN (You Ask, We Nurture), was born eight years ago out of Christy’s desperation “and the amazing community support we eventually found”. Christy runs YAWN as part of Connect Child and Family Services and links volunteers with parents who need a helping hand.

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 Christy is successful, the YAWN Program will use its grant to train more volunteers and support more families as well as to market its services and develop a social media strategy.


Leann Tibbey

PCYC Penrith
Passionate . Driven . Compelling

When Leann Tibbey was appointed manager of the Penrith PCYC, her priority was to reinvigorate it as a modern, friendly and busy community hub for all age groups. Within no time, she was consulting with stakeholders and putting her plan into action. An upgrade was completed in 2017 and membership and volunteer engagement have soared. Entire families enjoy the atmosphere of inclusion and the vastly increased choice of activities. “Youth who feel like they are a part of something are less likely to engage in risky behaviours,” says Leann. “I believe the whole community benefits.”

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 Leanne is successful, the PCYC will use its grant to revamp its gymnastics equipment, making it more suitable for children. The investment would allow the program to be extended to include Kindygym, where parents could get involved and help their children learn gross motor skills.


Nicole Celeban

Nepean Therapy Dogs
Tireless . Selfless . Empathetic

Imagine an anxious child waiting to give evidence in court, a lonely person in a nursing home or an isolated school student. That’s where Nicole Celeban, President of Nepean Therapy Dogs, and her team of well-trained human and canine volunteers step in. They live the charity’s mission statement, “always there to show they care”, by comforting people of all ages at hospitals, nursing homes, special needs schools and courts throughout western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. The visits are extremely rewarding, says Nicole, who regularly takes her four dogs to visit hospital patients and witnesses.

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 Nicole is successful, Nepean Therapy Dogs will use its grant to cover rent, electricity and insurance for six months. “The grant would free up many of our volunteers from time-consuming fundraising to allow us to extend our services to those in need,” she says.


Recognising all our 2019 nominees

View all of the nominees and their organisation

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

Terms and conditions
View terms and conditions

The learning curve to lead the Western Sydney Wanderers
Win your very own Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak

What's happening