Helen Romanis: Westfield Local Heroes 2018


Helen Romanis: Westfield Local Heroes 2018

Helen focuses on people’s abilities as she helps them gain independence

The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Marriott Support Services to purchase six new iPads with covers, create a new garden for the clients, and take both the clients and volunteers on educational and rewarding outings.

This has positively impacted the clients who attend Marriott Support Services, who have been provided opportunities to further develop their independence and skills.

More than 30 years ago Allan T Marriott had a light-bulb moment.

Realising there was a lack of disability services for adults in south-east Melbourne, he donated money to buy land for a new facility.

In 1985 Marriott House opened and began helping adults with disabilities to gain their independence.

“Marriott Support Services prides itself on being small enough to get to know people and their strengths while being big enough to have a range of supports to develop those strengths,” says Helen Romanis, who has volunteered there for five years.

She is seen as an amazing role model for staff and students alike, thanks to her knowledge and positive attitude.

Marriott helps people with an intellectual disability become involved in their community and has grown to three sites across Glen Eira, Kingston and Bayside local government areas. It provides supported employment to 110 people, supports 130 people in community programs and employs 80 staff.

Helen volunteers two days a week and takes time to focus on what people are able to manage rather than on their disability.

Her current role is to help people complete a certificate to help get into a course or find work. Helen patiently helps her charges learn writing skills and the ability to effectively express ideas, feelings and viewpoints.

“They gain confidence and often new skills, such as speaking to a group of people, travel planning and accessing facilities such as banks and public transport,” says Helen, who is both humbled and thrilled to be voted a Westfield Local Hero.

She is known for building warm connections with the people she helps.

“Helen knows a lot about life and helps me by encouraging me,” says one of her students.

“Helen has helped me through my fears about banking and self-control,” says another.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.

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