2020 Amy Large Volunteer Award Recipients

Our 2020 Amy Large Volunteer Awards were announced online in 2020. 

Thank you to all the volunteers who build community and change lives in the Inner West.

The Amy Large Awards honour local resident and much loved volunteer Amy Large, who passed away in 2015.  The awards acknowledge outstanding contributions to local families, organisations, programs, the environment and individuals in need.

Meet our 2020 winners

Young volunteers

Our Young Volunteer winners are:

  • Ashley Lieu for her work at Exodus
  • Ethan Krumins for community building at his local church
  • Rishabh Somani for his work helping student at his school and at the Grower’s Market

Read their inspiring stories below. 

Youth volunteer winner - Ashley Lieu

Ashley Lieu

Thank you Ashley for your contribution towards making our community a fairer, kinder and more inclusive place through your work at Exodus. Thank you for being a helper. You inspire us and give us hope.

There’s a Mr Rogers quote that I have been thinking about lately; “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’”. During these difficult times, this is what the Exodus Foundation represents for me and it is something I am so grateful to be a part of as a volunteer. My journey with the organisation has taught me that as long as we look, we will always find humanity in others and ourselves. And as long as there is humanity, there is hope.
- Ashley Lieu

Ashley is a much-valued volunteer who makes a significant contribution to the operations of the Exodus Foundation. As a provider of food, primary healthcare and crisis support to Sydney’s homeless and marginalised, Exodus aim to deliver services to the highest possible standard. Ashley’s volunteer work contributes to this goal. In addition to volunteering at the Exodus’ Loaves and Fishes restaurant, Ashley also volunteers as a Receptionist in Exodus’ head office.

Ashley has completed over 100 hours of volunteering with Exodus since early 2019. Ashley is quietly spoken and polite, and an absolute pleasure to work with. She is very enthusiastic and an asset to whichever role she is dedicated to. Ashley is inclusive and generous with her time. She is always happy to help anyone who walks through the door.

The Exodus Foundation supports a very vulnerable population and to be welcomed with a smile and an unwavering kind attitude really makes a difference.

Youth Volunteer Winner - Ethan KruminsEthan Krumins 

Thank you Ethan for your extraordinary contribution as a community builder with your local church and youth group.

Ethan volunteers through his local church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Summer Hill. For the past 4 years Ethan has led the youth group, supporting vulnerable community members and creating skill development opportunities for the church youth group.

Ethan is to be commended for his leadership. He is concerned for the welfare and mental health of others. His driving ideas are that no-one should feel alone and serving the community in many small ways helps to build a better community.

Ethan is extremely generous with his time and has worked creatively to provide opportunities for other young people to contribute positively within their community.

His volunteering has helped provide members of his community with services they would otherwise not be able to afford or access due to health or financial constraints. Some of the service activities Ethan has coordinated are; helping people to move house, assisting homeowners to consolidate and discard unwanted goods and arranging to have these distributed to people in need.

Ethan also coordinates a youth group which provides weekly opportunities for young people to build on their life skills and resilience through courses on mental health and wellbeing as well as developing practical skills such as cooking and budgeting. His volunteering is helping to build resilient and accomplished community members.

Due to current issue with COVID19, Ethan's church asked the youth group to come up with ideas for keeping the community connected. Along with finding an electronic way to provide the sacraments, Ethan has implemented a system of regular text messaging to support young men in his community. He has arranged to regularly check in with young men who might be feeling isolated due to being secluded. The regular communication provides support to these young men despite the inability to meet face to face.

Ethan is to be commended for his leadership, his creativity and for creating opportunities for other young people to contribute positively within their community.

Youth vounteer - Rishabh Somani Rishabh Somani 

Thank you Rishabh for your leadership and your service to the Inner West community, helping others to volunteer and assisting other students. 

Rishabh is an outstanding young man who has volunteered over 450+ hours in the last 3 years with various community, environmental and sporting groups.

As the president of his school Interact Club Rishabh has played a pivotal role in encouraging others to volunteer and raise funds for charity. Rishabh has encouraged others to volunteer and raise funds for a broad range of community groups including the Red Shield Appeal, World’s Greatest Shave, Clean-up Australia Day, Drought Relief and Bush Fire Relief.

In addition, Rishabh regularly volunteers at the Growers Market, provides after school peer tutoring, where he helps younger students with their studies and supports the before school breakfast club.

Rishabh’s life dream is to resolve the emerging ‘Worldwide Water crisis’. His drive, determination and service to the community is extraordinary and commendable.

Adult volunteers

Our Adult Volunteer winners are: 

  • Charity Galong for her work at Ashfield Baptist Church
  • Frieda Maher for her work with the Australian Breast Feeding Association and Leichhardt Saints Football Club
  • Vy Tran for her work Exodus
  • Ray Sykes for his work at Stepping Stone House
  • David Murphy for his contributions to Balmain Little Athletics
  • Amy Crozier for her work with Dress for Success

Read about their inspiring good work below.

Charity Galong Charity Galong

Thank you Charity for your contribution to improve the experience of newly-arrived and marginalised parents, grandparents and carers in the community with the Ashfield Baptist Church.

Thank you for appreciating my work at the Playgroup here in Ashfield. It's been two years since my family arrived in Sydney and a year since I started volunteering at Ashfield Baptist Church Playgroup as a partner of Prosper Australia.

I was a pre-school educator in the Philippines, so it is really my passion to work with children. When I started my volunteer work, I knew that I can use my skills and aside from that, I was excited to know different families from different cultural backgrounds. As a newcomer in Sydney, I tried looking for jobs that suit my skills but unfortunately, I didn't have Australian Certificate. Nevertheless, I find opportunity to use this by volunteering myself.

The church here in Ashfield that my family is attending offers a Playgroup every Wednesday so I volunteered to help. Serving families through this program is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the community. At first, it's a bit difficult because most of the families are not English speakers and most grandparents cannot understand and speak English, but it was not a hindrance to welcome them. I enjoy playing with children, doing crafts with them and singing and dancing. I also encourage the mothers or carers to learn English by engaging them in group play. Aside from that, I took every opportunity to communicate with parents or carers to help them improve their English skills. Through this, both children and parents can enjoy. My teammates Karen and Isha are also very supportive of me especially when I was new to the group. I am so thankful to Karen for always appreciating my efforts.

Aside from my volunteer work at the Playgroup, I also volunteer at my children's primary school, and at Ashfield Baptist Church's other community engagement services. As my parting words, being new to the community is not a hindrance to be of service. As I always love to tell myself, don't wait for what Australia can do for you, but ask also what you can do for Australia.
- Charity 

Charity Galong volunteers for Prosper Project Australia’s English practice playgroup run in Ashfield (at Ashfield Baptist Church Hall). This is an opportunity that calls for her expertise as an English as a Second Language teacher to support parents, grandparents, carers and children with low-no English to increase their participation in the community via the playgroup.

Charity also provides valuable voluntary childcare support at parenting programs run in Ashfield. For example, Charity provided childcare support during a Circle of Security program run for Mandarin-speaking parents in the Inner West.

Charity goes above and beyond to ensure she is contributing at all levels. She takes initiative to anticipate the needs of staff and makes valuable suggestions to enhance the way that playgroup is run. She has a variety of qualifications (including in childcare and as an English as a Second Language teacher) and has greatly increased the capacity of the Prosper team to reach and support so many local families with low-no English. 

Charity is wonderful with the parents, grandparents and carers who often arrive isolated, and she has succeeded in engaging them, connecting them to each other and welcoming them.

Charity has played a vital role in preparing many young children for starting school this year and has supported the early childhood development of hundreds of local, young children that have attended playgroup over the past year.

Frieda Maher Frieda Maher

Thank you Frieda for your long term and outstanding service to our community through the Australian Breastfeeding Association and Leichhardt Saints Football Club.

Frieda is a Leichhardt resident with a long and outstanding record of volunteering with different organisations in the Inner West and beyond.|

Frieda has been a peer volunteer breastfeeding counsellor and community educator with the CityWest group of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) since 2009. The CityWest group covers much of the Inner West Council area (Ashfield, Haberfield, Leichhardt, Rozelle, Lilyfield, Birchgrove, Balmain, Annandale, Summer Hill). In person at local group meetings or on the National Breastfeeding Helpline (free 24-hour, 7 day a week telephone service) Frieda provides breastfeeding providing support, information and reassurance to breastfeeding mothers and has assisted thousands of local families a critical time.

Frieda has taken 1516 calls, volunteering 890 hours from April 2009 to October 2019 on the National Breastfeeding Helpline alone. For the past 5 years, as part of her role with the local group, she has made 6 hospital grade breast pumps available for hire to help with the establishment of breastfeeding or to work through breastfeeding difficulties such as helping mothers establish breastfeeding for premature or sick babies.

Frieda has been a Trainer (since 2014) and Assessor (since 2012) with the Association, a registered training organisation. She has been involved in training and mentoring of new volunteers and assessing trainees' progress to qualify for their Certificate IV in Breastfeeding Education (Counselling and/or Community Education). Frieda has mentored new breastfeeding counsellors as they transition from trainees to qualified counsellors and has received positive feedback about her support. 

Not only has Frieda been active locally but she has been involved in many levels within the ABA. Frieda took on a Director role for the Australian Breastfeeding Association from 2017-2019 to help steer the national organisation. She contributed experience in strategic planning, governance, finance, IT and marketing to the board of Directors.

In addition to her support for individual families, Frieda has also made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the local CityWest group of the Association. Her roles have been many including working collaboratively to manage the group. Frieda has contributed to organising a system for the group’s finances, developing a social media presence to promote the group and link families with support, mentoring new volunteers and fundraising. Frieda has also been responsible for leading a regional team to produce a professional development conference for volunteers around NSW in 2011. This conference was for volunteers to share ideas, be inspired and update their knowledge.

In addition to her extensive role with the breastfeeding association, Frieda is also a long-term volunteer with Leichhardt Saints Football Club. Frieda is currently the Treasurer on the management committee, a position she has held for 5 years. Frieda has also held the position of Vice President and been a team manager with the Club.

In the past Frieda has also been involved as a parent representative with after school care program at St Fiacre’s Catholic School in Leichhardt. Frieda has also previously been a mentor for an online mentoring program with the Smith Family and small business mentoring with the Cherie Blair Foundation.

Vy Tran

Vy Tran  

Thank you Vy for your work quick responses and creative thinking helping the Exodus Foundation. 

Early in 2018 I decided to dedicate regular time to serve others, so have been in the Exodus Foundation food van every Tuesday night since then.

I'm in the Travel and Events industry and have been personally affected economically by COVID-19. After one shift I realised that whilst I wasn't in an ideal situation, my worst case was moving back to a safe home - my family home, a relative or friend's home. 

For many Exodus clients, the streets, hostels, halfway houses, abusive homes are already their worst-case scenario. With COVID19 Where do they go? Who do they talk to when you're supposed to keep to yourself and don't have access to technology? Where do they get income if the streets are deserted? What do they eat if other services pull out and there's a shortage of food not only in the food vans, but at the supermarket? 

I couldn't sit idly and offer 'thoughts and prayers' - I spurred into action. Creating canned food drives and sharing the templates so different groups could mobilise, picking up donations, raising money, recruiting more volunteers (amongst others my boss and his wife are regulars now too). 

Collectively we've donated thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and shown the power of the people - my cousin who works for Lendlease was able to get the organisation to donate 2,200 rolls of toilet paper to the Exodus Foundation

The social impact of COVID-19 is scary, and while there's no medical solution yet, we can all be part of the social solution by doing our bit; volunteering our time, donating money, or donating food.

I love volunteering because we have conversations with people we usually wouldn't come across in everyday life, whether that be patrons or fellow volunteers.
- Vy Tran

Vy has been a dedicated volunteer with the Exodus Foundation since she began as a Dinner Van Server in 2018. The Exodus Foundation is trusted by the community to improve the lives of the homeless and needy. As a provider of food, primary healthcare and crisis support to Sydney’s homeless and marginalised, Exodus aim to deliver services to the highest possible standard.

Vy, volunteers at the Exodus Dinner Van after her work day. During recent weeks and months Vy has hit the ground running and has helped Exodus by not only keeping up her volunteering but becoming an Exodus Advocate and Social Warrior. Vy has taken the initiative to organise fundraising drives and has called out to friends, family and her local community to pitch in and help. Vy's can-do attitude and initiative has been unwavering, and inspires others to make a difference too 

Ray SkyesRay Sykes

Thank you Ray for your outstanding service. The team at Stepping Stone House describe your impact on their community as nothing short of phenomenal. Your work has been instrumental in supporting Australia’ s youngest and most vulnerable people.

Ray Sykes has volunteered with Stepping Stone House for over three years and has demonstrated himself to be one of the most reliable and generous members of the Stepping Stone House (SSH) volunteer community. Ray’s contributions to the lives of homeless and at-risk youth supported by this Sydney accommodation service are far-reaching and highly visible.

Ray’s volunteer journey began when he and his wife, Diane, climbed to Mera Peak in the Himalayas of Nepal, raising awareness and over $5000 for homeless youth. Ray describes this as the hardest 10 days of his life. At this point, Ray hadn’t met any of the SSH youth or staff personally; he just wanted to do a good thing.

Upon returning from Nepal, Ray became involved with SSH’s adventure education program as a youth mentor. Through hiking, sailing, climbing and abseiling excursions, Ray quickly became one of SSH’s most valued volunteers, and a favourite amongst the young people. His approachable nature and dependability were invaluable to SSH and the young people he worked with.

After his time as an adventure mentor, Ray joined the board for SSH’s annual event, Sleep under the Stars. As Risk Management Coordinator, Ray brought expertise from his corporate role at Macquarie Bank, writing and implementing the event risk management plan. As a member of the event’s board, Ray arranged for teams of Macquarie Bank staff to attend the sleep-out, raising both funds and awareness.

A huge amount of the success of Sleep Under the Stars can be attributed to Ray’s leadership. Macquarie Bank raised $78,000 as a result of Ray’s position on the Sleep-out committee in 2018, and then a further $230,000 in 2019. These substantial contributions to the fundraising have resulted in 20 youth being kept off the street and supported for a year.

In a service that provides a home environment for young people who are unable to live with their families, warmth and consistency is invaluable. Ray embodies this. Ray has gone above and beyond for Stepping Stone House throughout his volunteer journey.

A great instance of this occurred after Stepping Stone House was forced to cancel a planned outdoor hike due to weather. Rather than disappoint the young people, Ray drove two hours and met the group at a climbing gym. The SSH youth had a great time, and after their climbing session, Ray opened the fridge in the back of his car, pulling out snacks and refreshments for all the young people. This is just one example of the way by which Ray goes above and beyond for the youth at SSH. The SSH youth workers were capable of taking the youth to the gym, but Ray made it a special and memorable occasion.

With 70% of homeless youth leaving home due to family breakdown, child abuse or violence, the reality is that many of the young people accommodated at SSH have trust and dependency issues. Having positive and memorable experiences is critical to the development of their health and wellbeing, and Ray has always been willing to go above and beyond for the SSH youth.

David Murphy David Murphy

Thank you David for the encouraging and supportive community you have built around Balmain Little Athletics Club. Thank you for the impact you have had on the health of our young people – setting them up for active healthy lives. You are a community builder David, people like you make us all stronger.

David has been President of Balmain Little Athletics Club since 2013. Established in 1972, Little Athletics enables children aged 4 to 16 to participate in track and field events in a friendly environment where everyone is encouraged to do their best.

Balmain Little Athletics Club meets at King George Oval, Rozelle on Saturday mornings from mid September to early March. Over 1000 athletes were registered with the Club for the 2019/2020 season.

David was first involved at the Club as an Age Manager for the U6 boys when his son joined Little Athletics in 2008. Age Managers play an important role - leading the athletes every Saturday competition day and overseeing the running of events.

In 2011 David joined the Balmain Little Athletics Committee as ‘Centre Manager’ which involves timing and running the main track on Saturday competition days. He still carries out this role today.

As President, David runs Committee meetings; liaises with Council, Little Athletics NSW, sponsors and suppliers; represents the Club at Zone and Regional Committee meetings and Little Athletics NSW Annual General Meetings. David also reviews and updates the program of events for the Club and manages communications - sending regular emails and Facebook updates. Over the 20-week summer athletics season, David would contribute over 300 volunteer hours.

As well as being President, David oversees training sessions every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon (these run for up to 1.5 hours) during the 20-week summer season. This role involves creating a training program and liaising with coaches to attend the sessions. David is also active during the training sessions as the Club’s hurdles and sprint coach.

David is dedicated and passionate about athletics and has created an encouraging and supportive community around Balmain Little Athletics Club. As a member of the Club's Committee, he leads by example. He is often the first to arrive at the oval to set up for competition days or prepare training sessions. When the Club is competing at Zone, Regional and State Championships, David makes sure that there is adequate shelter and support for athletes and their families. This often involves extra travel and preparation before competition starts, early on competition days and after competition has been completed.

As a coach, David’s focus is to improve the skills of every athlete at the Club. Balmain Little Athletics Club has consistently excelled at various levels of Championship competition under David’s commitment and guidance. This year, 90 athletes qualified to represent Balmain at the LANSW State Championships, the highest number in the Club’s history.

The other remarkable aspect of the Balmain Little Athletics Club is the connection among athletes in all age groups. Athletes are encouraged to try their best and achieve a ‘PB’ (personal best). David introduced a PB Bell that any athlete can ring to acknowledge their achievement of a PB at Club competition and at Zone Championships. At Presentation Day, David, with the support of the Committee, agreed to reward the top three PB Champions as well as Points Champions to show the Club’s commitment to encouraging everyone to try their best.

David encourages athletes who have completed their journey as ‘little athletes’ to return to the Club as junior coaches and supports their development in this area. There is a growing group of university aged former ‘little athletes’ gaining personal and professional skills through the Club.

Under David’s leadership, the Balmain Little Athletics Club has flourished! The number of athletes registered at the Club has grown from 300 in 2008 to over 1000 in 2020. Over the last 4 years, the Club has consistently registered between 980 and 1030 athletes every season. This represents over 600 families in the Inner West area being active and engaged in athletics.

David has worked hard with council and state government representatives to improve the facilities at King George Oval for the benefit of all athletes in the area. An example of this was his work in seeking a ‚’Community Building Partnerships’ grant for the Club several years ago. This vastly increased capacity for the long jump and throwing areas, making it much safer and more enjoyable for all athletes using the facilities.

David’s contribution extends beyond the commitment he shows to the community at and around Balmain Little Athletics Club. He also seeks to share fundraising undertaken by the Club with other Little Athletics Clubs in NSW and equipment the Club no longer uses or has replaced, is offered to other clubs. For example, in 2019/2020 Little Athletics NSW encouraged all Clubs in NSW to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House by selling stripy socks. The Club raised nearly $5,000 - the highest of all Little Athletics clubs in NSW. As a reward, the Club was given a $1,500 voucher to buy sports equipment. Instead of using the voucher for the Club, David and the Committee chose to donate that money to three Little Athletics Clubs in regional NSW.

David also proposed, and the Committee supported his proposal, to contribute $1,500 from funds raised by the Club’s Saturday morning barbecue/canteen. In the end, the three regional Little Athletics Clubs in drought-stricken NSW each received $1,000 to buy new equipment.

Amy CrozierAmy Crozier  

Thank you Amy for your contribution to supporting women to achieve economic independence. Without people like you, organisations like Dress for Success Sydney would not survive. You are an unsung hero and we thank you for your significant contribution to women’s economic independence.

Since May 2017 Amy has been volunteering at Dress for Success - supporting women to achieve economic independence.

Dress for Success’ clients are broadly defined as women in need who are seeking to join or, re-enter the workforce or to retain a new job and achieve economic independence. Their client base includes women who are long- term unemployed, those entering the workforce for the first time or re-entering after a long break. Many have experienced intergenerational cycles of unemployment, domestic violence and dependence on government benefits. Many clients, particularly mature job seekers, have been out of the workforce for a considerable length of time.

Amy volunteers weekly in an administrative capacity, assisting the Dress for Success career support team to deliver career support workshops to clients seeking employment. She also assists the CEO with administrative and project tasks. Amy always arrives for her volunteering shifts with a smile on her face and a ‘what can I do to help’ attitude. She is diligent and conscientious in her approach to every task she takes on. She is happy working behind the scenes to ensure workshops run smoothly and the career support team and facilitators are supported.

Amy’s consistent support to the small career support team ensures that client data is kept updated, ensuring clients are receive information and obtain access to all the important service Dress for Success offers. She also assists with Dress for Successes’ Professional Photography service, allowing clients the opportunity to have photos for their LinkedIn profiles. Amy is a committed volunteer, always willing to go the extra mile to ensure workshop clients feel welcome and facilitators have the required tools to deliver an effective workshop.

Senior volunteer

Our Senior Volunteer winners are:

  • Andy Midwood for his work at the Hannaford Computer Club 
  • Marie Kinsella for her work at Rozelle Nieghbourhood Centre
  • Angela Michaelis for Climate Change Balmain and Balmain High School
  • Xueyi Tao for her contribution to the Chinese Australian Services Society
  • Jeff Furolo for his work on the Baby Boomers Guide to Life
  • Adriana McCuskie for her support to Dress for Success
  • Christine Hopkins for work at Exodus

Read more about their great work below. 

Andy Midwood

Andy Midwood

Thank you Andy for you contribution as a Computer Club tutor at the Hannaford Centre -  supporting older people to become more independent and more socially connected. Thank you for your generosity, patience, reliability and your creativity in sharing your  computer knowledge.

Andy has been volunteering at the Hannaford Community Centre in Rozelle since March 2015. Andy Volunteers as a tutor in the Computer Club - six hours a week during school terms - providing one-on-one computer tutelage to people over 55.

Andy is warm and good-humoured, kind, generous, positive and highly motivated. He is relaxed and confident, conscientious and extremely reliable. He is intelligent and has a great deal of knowledge about computer technology. Moreover, Andy is inquisitive and is a quick learner, so he is always aware of new technologies - this is very useful to students. Andy is an excellent listener and communication and interaction with him is always easy.

It is vital that the Computer Club volunteers have good interpersonal skills and the ability to understand the needs and perspectives of the people they teach. This is certainly the case with Andy. He can identify what is important to the learner even when there are impediments to the learner’s ability to express themselves. Andy raises learner’s awareness of technologies that might be useful to them in their daily lives, for example, apps for public transport, how to determine what their phone and internet needs really are, how to access pay TV.

Andy has initiated and implemented many ideas that have resulted in meaningful help for older people. For instance: he has created and run well-attended workshops at the Hannaford Centre on topics such as NBN, online safety, Skype, eBooks, finding a good telco. The NBN workshops were in great demand and as a result Andy ran the workshop six times. Residents impacted by the rolling out of the NBN on the Balmain peninsula were very appreciative of these workshops and some also met Andy one-on-one at the regular Computer Club sessions. It made a difference to these people that they had somewhere to go for information about the NBN.

Three times a week, Andy offers a safe learning place, no matter if the person is an absolute beginner and quite anxious, or a more confident user of technology. As a result of Andy's help and encouragement, older people are able to use computer technology in their daily lives and this has positive repercussions in terms of health, socialising, transport and access. Many local people say that the learning that they have done with Andy has helped them to feel/be more independent, more socially connected and that it has helped in terms of their emotional wellbeing.

Andy’s colleagues at the Hannaford Centre say that working with him is a delight. He is a trusted and popular volunteer and works brilliantly alone or as part of a team. Andy is a positive and respectful team member who enjoys a challenge and is good-naturedly determined when it comes to finding solutions.

Many older people say that they feel more empowered and less anxious about these everyday technology matters as a result of Andy's assistance.

SENIOR artwork by - Marie Kinsella Marie Kinsella

Thank you Maree for your contribution at Rozelle Neighbourhood Centre.  You are a quiet achiever that makes our community stronger. 

Marie has been volunteering at Rozelle Neighbourhood Centre (RNC) one day a week since May 2019. Rozelle Neighbourhood Centre has been supporting the area for 41 years. They are a Community, Disability and MyAged Care organisation providing wellbeing services and activities to locals of the Inner West LGA. RNC is an approved NDIS and MyAged Care service provider and a registered charity.

Marie fulfils admin and reception duties at RNC, engaging with callers to the centre and directing them to the appropriate person. With Marie’s support the RNC staff can focus on supporting the community. RNC works across the whole of the community. Regardless of a person’s socio-economic situation, RNC work to find and create opportunities for people to be themselves in the community.

As the friendly face of RNC, Marie’s role involves:

  • Greeting and welcoming clients as soon as they arrive at the center including making tea/coffee and showing clients around.
  • Answering, screening and forwarding incoming phone calls.
  • Ensuring reception area is tidy and welcoming, with all necessary materials to ensure clients are provided with accurate information in-person or via phone/email.
  • Data entry.
  • Organising and maintaining office supplies
  • Filing, photocopying, laminating and opening of office post.

Marie is reliable and conscientious. She engages with callers in a meaningful way and ensures callers are directed to someone within the Centre who can assist them. Marie also takes care to keep abreast of services and opportunities at the centre and in the wider community so she can provide the best service to clients. Marie is friendly to all and provides a valuable entry point to the Centre. Callers to RNC are treated with courtesy and understanding.

Marie has great relationships with her colleagues and others in the community, she goes the extra mile and has empathy for Centre clients who present with issues to be resolved.  

Angela MichaelisAngela Michaelis

Thank you Angela for your long-term commitment to Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle, Bushcare and Balmain High School.  Thank you for building this capacity in our community and for the hope and inspiration you provide to everyone you are connected to. 

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something. And, as volunteers know – we are strongest when we act together to do our ‘somethings  - Angela Michaelis

We celebrate Angela for her services to Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle (CCBR). CCBR works to inform people about the dangers of climate change, speak out against the ongoing use of fossil fuels, and champion the growth and development of renewable energy sources. Angela has been a member of Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle since 2013 and is currently the group's Vice-President.

Angela has been instrumental in CCBR engaging in an ever-wider range of activities, and has worked enthusiastically and consistently towards the group's aims, in particular raising public awareness of climate change and how it needs to be addressed, and to taking their views to local representatives at all levels of government.

Angela has led a substantial increase in CCBR’s community outreach, connecting with the community at Orange Grove and other markets. She has led CCBR’s campaign to double the numbers of local participants in the School Strike for Climate as well as other events; and organised participation in elections and consultations at local, state and federal levels.

Angela is a valued member of the CCBR team that meets with politicians, including in the past 12 months, NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean and Federal Opposition leader (and local Member) Anthony Albanese.
In the past year, Angela initiated and developed a new format of members' meetings for CCBR’s ‘Climate Meetups’, facilitating the sessions and drawing increased participation from supporters outside the immediate core group. As well, Angela has organised speakers for the groups traditional Climate in the Pub meetings.

Angela has successfully organised CCBR's stalls at IWC's annual Footprints Eco-Festival, always innovating to ensure the connection with the public is positive and suited to their needs. She has built partnerships with other local community groups including supporting and mentoring members of Climate Action Burwood/Canada Bay as they brought their new organisation into being. Angela is a key link with wider state and national climate organisations. Her work has helped CCBR win recognition as one of the most vibrant and innovative local climate organisations in the state.

Angela is not just building a local climate group; she is a community development dynamo engaging people in positive action with their peers. Through her own enthusiasm for whatever project she takes on, Angela manages to recruit numbers of supporters and helpers, identifying each person's skills or preferences. As a result, the group has drawn in a greatly expanded list of active participants who are prepared to help with whatever is needed, or to take on organising roles themselves.

Angela empowers people. One of her most important attributes is her constructive approach. At public events, when many in the community are feeling depressed about Australia’s stance on climate change, Angela makes a point of discovering and sharing little-known news about positive action being taken whether it be a at a local or global level. This has made a real difference to individuals' willingness and ability to be involved as engaged citizens in important democratic processes.

Angela capably plans events and shares responsibilities with her trademark attention to detail and has always been prepared to lead the way on new types of activities. Apart from one-on-one personal communication, Angela has developed considerable skills on the group's various social media platforms.

Angela brings an extraordinary combination of qualities to her role in CCBR, and her commitment is infectious and successful. Without her CCBR would not be the dynamic organisation it is today, giving both hope and inspiration to everyone with whom she interacts.

Angela has also volunteered with local bush care groups for over 25 years: at Elkington Park since 2008. In the past year she has also put in about 60 hours work at Balmain High School. But far from having to share her time between activities, Angela has been able to bring people from one group to another, multiplying everybody's volunteering efforts, and enriching the network of connections in the local community. 

Xueyi Tao Xueyi Tao

Thank you Ms Tao for your tireless work supporting senior migrants living in Australia through dance. Through these activities you provide emotional support and decrease social isolation. In addition, sharing your love of dance creates opportunities for lifelong learning and keeps older people healthy, active and connected. Thank you for supporting the wellbeing of our community.

Ms. Xueyi Tao has been an active volunteer for Chinese Australian Services Society (CASS group) for over 18 years. Since 1981, CASS Group have provided a wide range of social and community services to multicultural communities including Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese and other communities. CASS’ services and activities cater to individual needs from cradle to seniors, covering Metropolitan Sydney and Wollongong.

For nearly 20 years, Ms. Xueyi Tao has been supporting senior migrants living in Australia through dance activities. Ms. Tao joined CASS’ Hua Kang Dancing Group as a volunteer in 2002. In 2012 Ms. Tao was elected a member of the Local Management Committee (LMC) of the group.

In 2016, Ms. Tao founded CASS Ashfield Social Dancing Group and in 2017 she started the Hua Jin Dancing Group in Kingsgrove. Like the Hua Kang Dancing Group, the purpose of these groups is for migrants of all ages to expand their social network, enrich their lives and participate in the community through dancing. Ms Tao is the volunteer dance Instructor for all three dancing groups - which have become a ‘must go’ activity for many residents of Ashfield, Hurstville and Kingsgrove.

The Ashfield Social Dancing Group runs every Monday at the Ashfield Town Hall. Participants learn Social Dance and Line Dance. The group has more than 150 participants every week. Ms Tao continuously reaches out to people, especially older people and encourages them to join the group. The dancing group plays a significant role helping many new migrants make social connections and participate in the community.

Ms. Tao’s dedication to the dancing groups is exceptional. With her active participation and caring attitude, Ms. Tao is well respected by the members of the Seniors Group and recognised as its Elder since 2017. The groups have become significant, well regarded and respected social support groups. Ms. Tao displays amazing talent in dance and teaches a wide range of dance styles, including Line Dance and Waltz. During weekly sessions, Ms. Tao is always busy setting up the venue, arranging logistics, collecting activity fees and keeping the venue tidy during and after the activities. 

Ms. Tao worked in the medical sector in China before her retirement. After retirement she migrated to Australia with her family and was enthusiastic about serving the community. She is 86 years old this year and is still working tirelessly for the community.Apart from volunteering for CASS, Ms. Tao regularly performs in many community events with other volunteer dancers and assists in Council elections and fundraising events.

Ms. Tao keeps herself abreast of new knowledge and skills. Her passion and commitment have influenced those around her. She encourages her fellow group members to acquire IT skills in order to better promote the activity groups and enhance communication among members. The groups now use WeChat (a Chinese social media platform) to communicate.

Ms. Tao utilizes her leadership skills and dancing talent to bring together seniors facing severe language barriers, migrants living in social isolation and those who have difficulties accessing community information and social support networks. Ms Tao’s dedication has assisted seniors and migrants of all ages to build social networks and enriched the lives of the participants. Enhancing participant’s access to information and participation in the wider society.

Ms. Tao’s dedication is the perfect example of ‘Age is just a number’. Despite her senior age, Ms. Tao is eager to acquire new skills and try new things. She regularly attends dance events held by other organisations in order to get inspiration and brings back innovative ideas to the CASS activity Groups where everyone can enjoy new steps.

Ms. Tao is well respected by her peers and her positive energy greatly inspires her group members. Ms. Tao’s attitude and dedication make her a role model not only to other volunteers and fellow group members, but also people in the community in general. Her positive attitude towards learning has influenced many elderly participants and inspired them to keep learning and be active. Ms. Tao’s hard work enables senior migrants to live a fuller and more meaningful life in Australia. Her spirit of volunteering is a good example to inspire other people to become noble volunteers.

Jeff Furolo Jeff Furolo 

Thank you Jeff for your work on the Baby Boomers‚ ‘Guide to Life in the 21st Century’  - helping Baby Boomers navigate their next chapter in life by exploring opportunities for engagement with the community.

We commend you for upholding the rights of older people to participate in all aspects of community life. For advocating for older people to have their views valued and respected for the diversity of their experiences, views, living circumstances and cultural backgrounds. Your radio show and podcasts are entertaining, informative and inspiring. Thank you for this important cultural contribution. 

In 2018 Jeff partnered with Radio Skid Row, secured a grant and formed a Steering Committee for a radio show: The Baby Boomers‚ ‘Guide to Life in the 21st Century’.

The ‘Guide to Life in the 21st Century’ is a multimedia healthy ageing project especially for Australians aged 55 and over. The program’s pilot series was broadcast live from Radio Skid Row in Sydney’s inner west in thirteen, hour-long episodes from 6 March to 13 June 2019. Jeff co-producers and hosts the show and its related podcasts.

Each episode of The Baby Boomers‚ ‘Guide to Life in the 21st Century’ discusses an aspect of ageing in Australia, starting with an interview with an expert in a segment titled ‘The Expert Speaks’. In ‘The Punter’s Panel’ we hear two local older people discuss their thoughts. We also hear from well-known older Australians who describe their formative cultural experiences in ‘Nostalgia Town’. Finally, we hear about things older people can do with their time in Sydney and the Inner West in a segment called ‘Out and About’.

In 2019 Jeff was part of the Inner West Council Seniors Festival working party that saw delivery of 'Seniors Festival 2020 - Retiring but not shy with Lex Marinos'. Jeff attended working party meetings to help plan the event, took carriage of arranging panel members and recording the event for season two of ‘Baby Boomers Guide to Life in the 21st Century’.

Jeff brings his passion, networks background in mental health and nursing and care of ageing issues to this work. He has taken risks in training in media and forging relationships with partners such as NSW COTA (Council On The Ageing), The Older Women’s Network (OWN), NSW ACON, the NSW Ethnic Communities Council, Inner West Council, Radio Skid Row and the Nursing Care of the Older Person studies at The University of Technology (UTS) Sydney. In working with the Seniors Festival, he was able to ensure that the panel discussion about important issues associated with ageing were discussed by ensuring the right mix of panel members. Both the show and the Seniors Festival event covered topics relating to ageing: Social isolation, mental health, ageism, volunteering, relationships, diversity, elder abuse, housing, finances, and more.

Although Jeff is not a professional radio producer and presenter, he took the time and trouble to learn the skills necessary to produce and present the ‘Baby Boomers, Guide to the 21st Century’. He also invested his own funds into setting up a home studio with professional equipment so that he can produce the show to broadcasting standards.

Jeff is passionate about sharing information to help Baby Boomers navigate their next chapters in life in a way which is fulfilling, and which also promotes engagement with the community and society at large. This personal mission is admirable.

Jeff encourages Baby Boomers to reflect on the issues they are facing, and how they can best navigate the challenges before them. These issues include health challenges, dealing with ageism, and the mental health issues one can encounter when moving from full time work to retirement/part time work. It is all packaged in an entertaining format with interviews featuring noted older Australians and music from the era. Even listeners who are not in the Baby Boomers age group benefit from gaining an understanding of this generation, leading to less ageist attitudes against this cohort.

Jeff has been tireless in his pursuit of issues and interviews for the Baby Boomers Guide to the 21st Century. In the process, he has made many connections, and linked organisations/people together who would otherwise not have met. He has also volunteered to record forums (eg Yesterday Today Tomorrow held in Parliament House for the Older Women's Network NSW) at no cost and has offered these recordings for the use of the organisations for free. Jeff continues to plan and partner for season two of Baby Boomers and has also won a MACA Media Award from the NSW Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing. 

Adriana McCaskieAdriana McCuskie  

Thank you Adriana for supporting women to achieve economic independence through your work at Dress for Success Sydney. 

From an early age, notions of service and responsibility to one’s community were part of my school and family life. That informed my activities as an adult to find ways of contributing towards equity and social justice, both professionally and as a volunteer.

I began volunteering at Dress for Success Sydney nine years ago for two reasons. First, I felt my professional skillset would be of some value to this organisation’s client base. Second, DFSS’s mission really resonated with me. Giving women real and practical tools so that they may become financially independent is such a game changer!

At DFSS I am fortunate to be working alongside an exceptionally talented group of professional women, both as staff and fellow volunteers and I also contribute to the betterment of our clients’ futures.
My involvement at DFSS has been incredibly rewarding. I would encourage others to get involved in volunteering, and to do so in an organisation that ‘speaks’ to them. 
- Adriana McCuskie

Since 2011 Adriana has been volunteering with Dress for Success Sydney supporting women to achieve economic independence.

Dress for Success’ clients are broadly defined as women in need who are seeking to join or, re-enter the workforce or to retain a new job and achieve economic independence. Their client base includes women who are long- term unemployed, those entering the workforce for the first time or re-entering after a long break. Many have experienced intergenerational cycles of unemployment, domestic violence and dependence on government benefits. Many clients, particularly mature job seekers, have been out of the workforce for a considerable length of time.

Adriana has a strong work ethic. She is committed to Dress for Success Sydney's clients and to providing a quality and professional service. Adriana volunteers as a facilitator for the Dress for Success’ career support program delivering free training on presenting and preparing for interviews. With Adriana’s support the program has now expanded online so any client can access career coach.

Adriana also supervises and supports other coaches, develops procedures for the program, assists with volunteer training and quality assurance to ensure Dress for Success delivers real outcomes for clients.

Adriana is an integral part of the Dress for Success team - 60% of clients who enter the coaching program find employment or undertake further training and education. This is a major achievement - the impact of women finding financial independence has far reaching benefits for their family and community. 

Adriana brings a level of professionalism, providing necessary critical feedback when required and support and assistance when needed. The coaching program and career support workshops would not be in the position they are today without her contribution.


Christine HopkinsChristine Hopkins

Thank you Chris for your long-standing, significant contribution to our community's most vulnerable people through your work at Exodus. 

I started volunteering at the Exodus Foundation after I retired in 2016 and it has been such a rewarding experience.  It has given me a better understanding of people who are disadvantaged and has certainly made me appreciate the little things in life, the things we take for granted. I work with some wonderful people who brighten up my day and make me feel like I am part of the Exodus family. It is a pleasure to spend two days a week helping an organisation that does so much good for the community. And even though I am giving my time to Exodus, I really think that Exodus gives me back much more. -Christine Hopkins

Chris volunteers as office and administration support in the volunteer department of Exodus Foundation. With Chris’ support Exodus works to provide food, primary healthcare and crisis support to Sydney’s homeless and marginalised.

Chris is a doer. She has supported the volunteer team at Exodus two days a week since 2016. Chris is always happy to volunteer wherever needed and at the blink of an eye will drop everything to help, in the office providing support and communication to our large network of volunteers in the Loaves and Fishes Restaurant serving meals and everything in between. She is quiet and caring and works with initiative, while bringing a great sense of humour and bubbly energy that makes a difference to the team’s ‘every day’.

Chris has seen many periods of change at Exodus and has remained one of the foundational pillars of the team. Chris regularly puts her hand up to go the extra mile, even with a full life and other volunteering commitments at the local library. Chris’ years of professional business administration and public service experience bring invaluable skills to the volunteer team. She undertakes projects and audits that Exodus simply would not be able to do without her and makes them seem effortless and even fun!

Office volunteers can be the unsung heroes behind the scenes. Chris has quietly given over 1710hrs of her time since volunteering with Exodus ...that's over 342 instances of volunteering! It is safe to say the Exodus Foundation could not imagine being without her.

Volunteer teams

Our Volunteer Team winners are:

  • CYBER Seniors Tutors - Marrickville High and Ashfield Boys High
  • Ashfield Seniors Eden

Read about their amazing community work below.

Cyber seniors program at Marrickville High CYBER Seniors Tutors - Marrickville High and Ashfield Boys High

Marrickville Boys High School team: Ben Tomkins, Angus McAlister, Ahmet Tiken, Muhammed Tekin, Joshua Bradley, Charlie Redfern.

Ashfield Boys High School team: Shane Wan, Ivan Kwan, Sebastian Cutcherwith, Hannan Mohammed, Dylan Chedra, Adam Cahrouk, Sanu Manandhar, Thomas Galati, Kush Kumar, Wesley Stewart, Collins Nyugen

Thank you to these young people for their contribution to our community with the Cyber Seniors program, fostering respect between generations, promoting social inclusion, and aiding lifelong learning by building confidence and improving technology skills. Your work helps maintain health and wellbeing amongst our older generation.

Cyber Seniors is an intergenerational partnership between student volunteers from Ashfield Boys, Marrickville High School and older community members who wish to improve their skills using technology.

Cyber Seniors volunteers meet their ‘senior students’ at school or in the local library. Lessons are directed by the interests and needs of the ‘senior student’. The 1:1 learner-centred teaching style enables seniors to learn at their own pace and focus on their personal needs and interests. Cyber Seniors volunteers have helped older community members learn how to set up a new tablet or phone, sell on Ebay, plan travel, share photos, explore family history, play the stock market, and keep in touch with family.

The contribution made by the Cyber Seniors volunteers is even more important considering the social isolation experienced by our community in the time of COVID19 – when connecting with entertainment, friends and family virtually has been the only social outlet for many.

The young people who volunteer for the Cyber Seniors program are showing the makings of future leaders. They have demonstrated maturity and patience and were quick to develop rapport with their ‘senior students’. The students have demonstrated empathy, respect and appreciation of other community members. They have also come to realise that they have special and valuable knowledge which grows when they teach others. Many of the Cyber Seniors volunteers said they have gained a deeper appreciation of how older people think and learn. They felt the program had improved their communication skills and boosted their self-confidence.

Ashfield Seniors Eden - 270

Ashfield Seniors Eden 

Thank you Michael Jingshen Chen, Lei Lei, Xinmin Li, Da Jiang and Zhude Bian for your work to run Ashfield Seniors Eden.  The group plays an important part in Ashfield’s community and cultural life. Your work provides social, creative and cultural opportunities and improves the health and wellbeing of older, often socially isolated community members. Thank you for creating these opportunities for our older community members and for the vibrant cultural institution that is Ashfield Seniors Eden.

Ashfield Seniors Eden (ASE) is a non-profit organisation that organises dancing, singing and health seminars for up to130 Australian/Chinese Seniors at Ashfield Town Hall twice a week. The group is supported by a team of 5 tireless volunteers - Michael Jingshen Chen, Lei Lei, Xinmin Li, Da Jiang and Zhude Bian. 

Many older Chinese migrants come to Sydney each year. Often, they come to support family. It can be difficult for this group to make social connections and learn English. When they arrive in Sydney they normally stay at home and are socially isolated as their children must work. ASE group becomes one of the most important social groups to them.

Ashfield Seniors Eden creates opportunities for 80 and 90 year olds to sing and dance, learn how to use social media and take edit and post their beautiful performance pictures, they bring their friends to the group, they share medical treatment experience, younger volunteers keep an eye on the older ones.

A Sathya Sai Volunteer serving at Exodus\

Sathya Sai Strathfield

Thank you to Exodus and Sathya Sai (led by Ken Kanagarajh, Ponna Ponnampalam and Arun Saravanamuthu) for their long standing support of the most vulnerable members of our community.

The Sathya Sai Strathfield team are a founding volunteer group at the Exodus Foundation’s Loaves and Fishes Restaurant where a daily, healthy, great tasting lunch is served to anyone in need.

For nearly 20 years, 3 Saturdays a month, Sathya Sai Strathfield has provided between 10-14 volunteers to look after Exodus’ vegetarian Saturday luncheon.

It is wonderful to see communities of multiple faiths come together to help a common cause. The Loaves and Fishes Restaurant has no religious iconography and all people are welcome, the Sathya Sia team also respect this and Exodus and Sathya Sia connect with shared values of kindness, care and service to others.

The Sathya Sia team also help Exodus at short notice and for events. Exodus is very grateful for the ongoing relationship and dedication of Sathya Sai.

Watch some of our winners say thanks!

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Page last updated: 21 May 2021