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Top volunteers honoured

Knox City Council has recognised inspiring individuals and community organisations in the Knox Community Awards.

Knox Mayor, Councillor Jude Dwight said the awards celebrated the valuable contribution volunteers make to our community.

Awards were presented for Knox Volunteer of the Year, Knox Community Organisation of the Year and Outstanding Volunteer Service, as well as Recognition of Years of Service.

“These awards pay tribute to everyday residents who have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact in Knox,” she said.

“Our award recipients don’t seek recognition. These awards are our opportunity to recognise outstanding individuals, organisations, clubs and groups for their volunteer efforts. It is our opportunity to show how much we, as a community, value their selfless and tireless volunteering efforts to help others and make Knox a great place.”

Winners were announced during National Volunteer Week, Australia's largest annual celebration of volunteering, to highlight the important work of volunteers in Knox and inspire people to start volunteering.

“Our community has a strong volunteering culture, with 17,300 people, or 13.1% of the population aged 15 and over, dedicating their time to some form of voluntary work,” Cr Dwight said.

“Being able to highlight some of our amazing unsung heroes will hopefully inspire others and help raise awareness of opportunities to volunteer and contribute to our community.”

The Knox Community Awards recipients are:

Volunteer of the Year

  • Christine Anderson for her volunteer work with Rotary Club of Fern Tree Gully and other local organisations

Community Organisation of the Year

  • Feed One Feed All, established by Lillie Giang in 2021 following a significant storm event and a growing demand to provide meals to those in need

Outstanding Volunteer Service (up to 5 recipients):

  • Bernard Fewster for his volunteer work with St Vincent de Paul Society
  • Trevor Norton for his volunteer work with Adult Migrant English Program - Volunteer Tutor Scheme, Bridges Community Services, and Meals on Wheels
  • Kathleen Loxton for her volunteer work with The Friends of Koolunga Native Reserve and previously with Bridges and other local organisations
  • Liz Bullen for her volunteer work with Ben's Place — Community Support Knox, Yarra Ranges & Surrounds
  • Nirmala Nyaupane for her volunteer work with Didi Bahini Samaj Victoria

Citations:

Volunteer of the Year: Christine Anderson

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Knox Volunteer of the Year Christine Anderson.

Christine Anderson has dedicated many years of volunteer service to the Knox community through her role in Rotary and other local organisations, making significant efforts to help others.  

Christine joined the Rotary Club of Fern Tree Gully 10 years ago and has held many key positions at the Club, including President and District 9810 Assistant Governor. She has been a member of the Board for nine years and represented the Club at the Ferntree Gully Village Traders Association for eight years. 

Christine’s passion, enthusiasm and motivation in community projects has helped Rotary to build strong connections with the local community and make a difference to the lives of many people.

Christine founded and project managed the Knox Nocturnals Youth Program, a fortnightly socially inclusive program for young people living in Knox, including those who are vulnerable, isolated and at-risk. She has also helped with other Rotary Youth Programs.

Christine coordinated free craft activities for families and children on numerous occasions at the Stringybark Festival, Knox Festival, Ferntree Gully CFA Open Day, Knox Historical Society, Bunnings Community Nights, Dandenong Storm Relief Recovery Day and Ferntree Gully Village Fair. She has also helped with numerous Rotary fundraising activities.

Over 10 years, Christine has supported Foothills Community Care — providing meals, participating in RUOK Day, making desserts and organising Christmas hampers and presents. 

Christine worked with the Ferntree Gully Salvation Army in setting up the 24/7 Open Pantry, providing food to those in need, collecting for the Red Shield Appeal, and organising Christmas hampers. She also coordinated with Rotary Club members to provide shelter bags for those living rough. 

Christine also worked with Ferntree Gully CFA to deliver the Anzac Day Dawn Service. 

While Christine has a full-time job, she manages her time to support others with great passion and true dedication.

Community Organisation of the Year: Feed One Feed All

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Knox Community Organisation of the Year Feed One Feed All (Lillie Giang centre)

Feed One Feed All (FOFA) was established by Lillie Giang in 2021 following a significant storm event and a growing demand to provide meals to those in need. Lillie and a group of friends set up a mobile kitchen and FOFA has continued to expand across the community, providing an incredible service. 

FOFA has delivered over 62,000 meals to individuals facing various challenges, including cancer patients, those in palliative care, recent widows, domestic violence survivors, vulnerable people and those in economic distress.

FOFA includes over 50 dedicated volunteers who prepare up to 1200 nutritionally balanced meals weekly, which are distributed through agency partners to reach those most in need.

Over the past year, FOFA has doubled its operations from 600 to 1200 meals per week, increasing production from one day to two days a week. As a result of this growth, FOFA has been able to collaborate with additional food relief agencies such as Share Space and Ben’s Place, extending its services to communities in Rowville and The Basin. 

FOFA has also actively supported community events like the Foothill Community Care’s Pop-up Farms to Families Fresh Food Market, where it has provided food and cooking demonstrations to educate the community on food preparation and nutrition to address food insecurity within the community. These efforts reflect FOFA’s dedication to holistic support and sustainable solutions in addressing food insecurity within the community.

FOFA plays a vital role in supporting vulnerable people in the local community and has also become an avenue through which volunteers can share their sense of purpose. 

Lillie Giang and FOFA volunteers go above and beyond to support the community. Lillie’s vision, dynamic energy, and community service inspires others to help encourage food equity through healthy cooked meals for those in need.

Outstanding Volunteer Service: Bernard Fewster

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Trevor Norton

Bernard Fewster has been a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society for an incredible 62 years, including 44 years in the Boronia and Bayswater areas. He has provided an outstanding service to the community across many volunteer roles.  

Bernard has contributed tirelessly to the Knox community, striving to reach out to vulnerable members of society as a St Vincent de Paul volunteer. He has visited and given assistance to people in need on a weekly basis.

Bernard has been President of the Bayswater and Boronia Conferences of the St Vincent de Paul Society for various periods over the years, demonstrating leadership by liaising between St Vincent de Paul Society Head Office and members, and giving guidance and direction. He has been recently involved in promoting the recruitment of new members for Bayswater and he has been successful in achieving this.

During the Covid pandemic, Bernard continued to deliver much-needed items such as food vouchers and Vinnies stores vouchers, despite the challenging times and keeping within government guidelines. 
Bernard also made a significant long-term contribution to the local sporting community. 

He was involved in local football as a member of the Junior Committee for the Eastern Football League for 16 years. As part of this role, he attended local matches throughout the season, communicating with club officials and facilitating the smooth running of the games. 

Bernard was also a member of the State Emergency Service for some time, giving assistance during emergencies such as storms and car accidents.

As well as the visiting the needy, assisting people in emergency situations and attending local football games, he has attended numerous meetings and contributed much of his personal time and effort to these activities over an extended period.
Bernard is a selfless individual who has devoted his life to helping others.

Outstanding Volunteer Service: Trevor Norton

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Bernard Fewster


Trevor Norton joined the Melbourne Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) - Volunteer Tutor Scheme in September 2019 and has shown exceptional dedication to the Knox community in his role as a Volunteer Tutor. 

Trevor’s role involves supporting new migrants and refugees to improve their English language skills, build confidence and connect to local services. 

Trevor has consistently gone above and beyond, supporting five AMEP learners with English language and settlement in the community. Trevor’s proactive approach and willingness to contribute have helped the learners to find employment, achieve personal goals and enjoy the Knox community. 

Trevor is passionate and displays enthusiasm and dedication towards supporting learners. He has a remarkable range of qualities, skills and experiences that make him an exemplary volunteer.

Trevor is also involved in other volunteering roles and demonstrates a strong commitment to serving others and contributing positively to the community.

Trevor has been volunteering with Meals on the Wheels once a week for 20 years in Ferntree Gully and Boronia and is also a Volunteer Worker at the Bridges Community Services in Knox.

In 1996, Trevor volunteered in the District Volunteer Watch and was involved in several art fairs and events at Knox Festival and Monbulk College. 

Trevor is also a member of the Film Society and meets the other members once every two weeks. 

Trevor has 40 years of experience as an Arts Teacher and Careers Coordinator. He also worked as an English Teacher in China through Victoria University and he is fluent in Mandarin. 

Trevor’s amazing artwork was featured in an exhibition in Southbank.

Trevor has drawn from his personal and extensive experience in teaching across Australia, China and America, which has fostered valuable skills such as empathy, teamwork and community support.

Outstanding Volunteer Service: Kathleen Loxton

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Kathleen Loxton

Kathleen Loxton has been heavily involved in volunteering through many local groups since she moved to Ferntree Gully in 1980, and she has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the environment, arts and community.  

Kathleen is a founding member of The Friends of Koolunga Native Reserve, which commenced in 1994 to preserve and develop a unique area of remnant native bushland in Ferntree Gully. The area was previously neglected and an ongoing program of rubbish removal, weeding and indigenous planting continues to this day.

Kathleen has supervised many young people from local schools, Scouts and Guides, and groups undertaking environmental projects in Koolunga. She also engaged with other Koolunga Native Reserve users to educate them on environmental issues and encourage participation in the Friends group. 

Kathleen has been involved in the Eastern Region’s ‘Community Visitor in Mental Health’ program, as a Convenor and volunteer visitor. She regularly visited mental health patients in Maroondah Hospital and the Peter James Centre. She also produced an annual report on the mental health facilities for state parliament.

Kathleen has been a member of Knox Council’s ‘Knox Pride’ Committee and was involved in Gardens for Wildlife. She has also contributed to Flora of Melbourne.

Kathleen was Chairperson of Bridges Connecting Communities, an organisation that provides transport to clinics for frail and disabled people in Knox.  

She is also an accomplished artist and has held exhibitions and received awards for her paintings, through her involvement with Ferntree Gully Arts Society. Since 2006 she has taught two watercolour classes per week at Knox U3A, where she has a long waiting list for new students. 

Kathleen has had some ongoing health issues over many years and despite this has continued her active involvement in community programs. 

Kathleen is a dedicated volunteer across many organisations and is highly respected by all for her commitment to the local community.

Outstanding Volunteer Service: Liz Bullen

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Liz Bullen

Liz Bullen has made an outstanding contribution to the community as the Founder, President and driving force behind a vibrant new organisation called ‘Community Support Knox, Yarra Ranges and Surrounds’ (Ben’s Place). 

Liz embarked on her mission to address food insecurity in the community by establishing a community pantry in memory of her son, Ben, who tragically passed away due to suicide. Mental health support is at the heart of the organisation’s mission and food security is recognised to have a profound impact on those already navigating other challenges in life.

In the last 12 months, the pantry has grown from several crates of food in Liz's carport, to a full-scale community pantry operating seven days a week at a community hall in The Basin Triangle named Ben’s Place. It is a lifeline for individuals and families facing financial hardship, providing nutritious food and essential supplies. 

Over 450 households visit the pantry each week, including pensioners, people with disabilities, veterans, families with young children and people who are homeless. Food is also supplied to school breakfast clubs.

Liz has a remarkable ability to inspire and mobilise people, including over 50 dedicated volunteers with diverse backgrounds. She guides and supports volunteers, building their skills and confidence. 

Liz engages with supermarkets, bakeries and other local shops and services for donations. She collaborates with local farmers to save goods from going to landfill. She also works with other organisations to expand services. 

Liz spends hours every day working tirelessly to collect, sort, pack and distribute goods, but also takes time to chat to people visiting the pantry, with a warm smile. She also organises soft toys and chocolates for children at Easter and Mother’s Day gifts.

Struggling families have expressed their gratitude for the sense of dignity and beacon of hope that the pantry provides.

Outstanding Volunteer Service: Nirmala Nyaupane

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Nirmala Nyaupane

Nirmala Nyaupane has made an outstanding contribution to the Knox community through her tireless volunteer work. She has led a range of programs to enhance the health and wellbeing of Nepalese people, particularly women in the local area.

Nirmala is currently Vice President of Didi Bahini Samaj Victoria and has been the key lead and coordinator for the Eastern branch of the organisation for the past six years. 

She was the first Nepalese person in Knox to obtain a grant to run regular health and wellbeing sessions including yoga and meditation for Knox residents and she also organised the first workshop related to family violence awareness in the community. 

Nirmala organised regular dance sessions through the grant and, as a result of her efforts, a group of Nepalese women were involved in producing a dance video. This activity has increased the confidence of many of the women involved who had never performed a dance before.  

Nirmala has worked extremely hard to bring the Nepalese community together. Her sessions were essential in helping to lift the community’s mental health and wellbeing levels, especially following the Covid pandemic.

Nirmala has also been the key volunteer organising major cultural events such as Teej Nepalese Women's Festival and the biggest Nepalese Festival, Dashain/Tihar, for the Knox community.  

Nirmala has been integral in the success of the programs for Nepalese women and motivates the team to continue to work together for the benefit of the community.

She continues to seek support for further projects that will help others.
 

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