John Boccanfuso: House With No Steps
Much-loved John brightens people’s day with a story and a laugh
You could call John Boccanfuso the one-million-pen man.
Often dressed in bright Hawaiin shirts, the much-loved pen seller has been raising money for disabled people since 1974, volunteering seven days a week from 10am until 2pm.
John, who damaged his cerebellum in an accident at the age of 12, is always ready to share a story and a laugh with any one of his loyal customers at Westfield Penrith, some of whom buy a pen from him every day.
People cherish his positive attitude and warmth and he is quickly missed on his rare absences from the centre. On those days, several concerned shoppers are sure to stop at the concierge desk to ask where he is.
The money John raises goes to the House with No Steps, a charity that supports people with a disability.
But John’s contribution goes way beyond the tens of thousands of dollars he has raised. He leads by example and his presence in the community promotes the social inclusion of people living with a disability.
John, who has been looked after by House with No Steps for several years, also feels strongly about ensuring others learn about the services the charity provides.
He is proud to have sold more than one million pens during his 44-year career and he has received many accolades, including a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2011. He has also received a Penrith Council Citizens Award and his picture graces the Penrith Council wall of acknowledgement.
But John says he is most proud of the fact that former PM John Howard bought a pen when he visited his table in 2016 for a chat.
John says it “feels really good” to be a Westfield Local Hero and he is happy that House With No Steps will benefit. The charity will put its $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant towards buying a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.