Local Heroes win $10,000 for charities
TWO charities which feed hundreds of people across Geelong and the Bellarine, and an organisation that is turning young people’s lives around will all receive a $10,000 boost thanks to Westfield and their own “heroes”.
OneCare Geelong CEO Claire Faulmann, Geelong Youth Engagement CEO Andy Brittain and Feed Me Bellarine’s Anthony Woodbury are this year’s Westfield Geelong Local Heroes and have all won $10,000 for their charities.
Claire started her new role as CEO of OneCare Geelong in March 2020, just two days before COVID-19 restrictions started.
She has been recognised for her efforts to transform the charity and implement new initiatives necessary to continue delivering vital services including feeding, counselling and mentoring those in need throughout the pandemic.
“Counselling went online, our sit-down meals went to a pick-up service and our food bank started, which didn’t exist prior to COVID and is now a permanent service,” she said.
Speaking to the Times after her finalist nomination, Claire said winning $10,000 through the Local Hero program would enable OneCare Geelong, which relies on donations and community grants, to “keep doing what we’re doing, continue our programs”.
Andy is a former police officer who had been working with at-risk, secondary school-aged people facing significant challenges for the past 15 years, and started Geelong Youth Engagement’s valuable Kokoda program in 2013 as a volunteer before taking on the CEO role.
Almost 90 young people have been through the Kokoda program, with more than 100 adults walking alongside them and supporting them before, after and during the trek.
The intensive one-year personal and physical development program has been extremely successful in boosting the young participants’ confidence and improving their attitude to life.
Andy said after his finalist nomination, becoming a Local Hero award winner and securing $10,000 for GYE would enable him to buy equipment and expand the program so all participants could complete a level three first aid course, which could help them or someone else around them one day.
“We rely on grants and donations and we are lacking electronic equipment like projectors and laptops to deliver our program to young people; and we need to buy things that will last,” he said.
Co-founder of Feed Me Bellarine, Anthony Woodbury said winning $10,000 “equals 10,000 meals to us, it would help us get through the next six months”.
Becoming a Westfield Local Hero will also help the local chef upgrade his kitchen to be able to produce more meals, as demand increases across the Bellarine.
The charity has distributed more than 100,000 healthy, chef-prepared meals over the past two years, and helps about 700 families put food on the table every week with the support of more than 100 volunteers.
Feed Me Bellarine also operates a supermarket where families can pick up fresh produce and a cafe that serves gourmet meals on a pay-what-you-can basis.
The volunteer-based charity has also helped save more than 238,000 kilograms of food from going to landfill.
Westfield will open nominations for the 2022 Westfield Local Heroes program early next year and is encouraging residents to start thinking about people in the community who make a difference.