Meet your Westfield Local Hero Finalists
In the first year of the Westfield Local Heroes program, we have received an overwhelming response and many heart-warming stories after asking the Christchurch community to nominate individuals who they believe promote social wellbeing and harmony in their communities.
We congratulate every one of our nominees and recognise the important contribution they make to the local community.
The community has now cast its vote, the outcome of which will determine the three successful 2018 Westfield Local Heroes for Westfield Riccarton. Each of their affiliated organisations will be awarded a $10,000 grant to support their work, program or activities.
The successful Westfield Local Heroes will be announced on 13 August.
Your six finalists for Westfield Riccarton are:
Matthew Button: Big Brothers Big Sisters
Humble. Dedicated. Giving.
Matthew singlehandedly started Big Brothers Big Sisters here in Christchurch, providing screened and trained volunteer mentors for disadvantaged young people, young people who are missing out in some way. The relationship that develops between mentor and youth helps to increase self-esteem, confidence and resilience and provides them with an adult to confide in and rely on. Matthew is integral to the running and continual development of the program as well as supporting growth into other areas and since opening he has improved the lives of over 550 young people. If successful the $10,000 grant would contribute to broadening the reach of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and connecting more disadvantaged youth from the region with caring mentors.
Charlotte Ellis: Royal New Zealand Plunket Trust
Humble. Passionate. Giving.
Charlotte's purpose as a volunteer for Plunket Christchurch is to support families and work towards the Plunket vision - "In the first 1000 days we make the difference of a lifetime." In her 4.5 years as a Plunket volunteer she has helped to ensure that parents have access to community services such as parenting education classes, and helps them to develop a well-connected support network, supporting families to raise happy, healthy children. Plunket as an organisation has directly benefited also from Charlotte's work as she helped organise numerous fundraising campaigns. The $10,000 grant would help Plunket Trust to further grow a volunteer base that will help the service stay locally led and developed, and also help to deliver their free parenting education classes and support services.
Mana Harema: La Vida Youth Trust
Bighearted. Real. Inclusive.
Mana is both a 24-7 youth and community worker engaging with young people and their Whanau in the Riccarton area on behalf of the La Vida Youth Trust. The Trust exists to empower and develop young people and their Whanau so that they see value in themselves and the communities they are part of. Mana's passion is to help empower those less fortunate by helping make positive connections with the community, challenging anti-social behaviours, advocating for their rights and needs and ensuring access to necessary services. He works to promote a greater connection between youth, their families, schools and the community. Mana’s role with La Vida Youth Trust is currently a fixed term contract, and the Westfield Local Heroes grant would allow the organisation to continue his role and the important contribution he makes to families in the region.
Charlotte Pawson: ParaFed Canterbury
Passionate. Compassionate. Energetic.
Charlotte is a Junior Sports Manager at ParaFed Canterbury where she designs and delivers sports programs to children and youth aged 5-21 who have physical disabilities. She also manages the ParaFed Canterbury Junior Team which competes in the annual Halberg Junior Disability Games. Through physical activity, Charlotte encourages children to build confidence, a love of movement and a sense of community by socialising and interacting with others who face similar challenges. This also creates a great support network for families of children with physical disabilities. The programmes and teams Charlotte manage assist in providing a pathway for young physically disabled people to one day participate in competitive sport. If selected as a Westfield Local Hero the $10,000 would assist Charlotte in continuing to deliver quality programs whilst keeping the costs for participants and their families at a minimum.
Bob Shearing: Enrich Community Chaplaincy Trust
Dedicated. Friendly. Grafter.
Bob is a volunteer and Chairperson of the Enrich Community Chaplaincy Trust, an organisation that was established to benefit the intellectually disabled community of Canterbury. He has worked tirelessly for the past 20 years to help the vulnerable and is the driving force behind the continual fund-raising required to support the Chaplain's who visit the disabled in their community homes to ensure the well-being and inclusion of the intellectually disabled. The Chaplin's also provide support for the staff who work in these community homes. The need to increase the number of Chaplin's required to continue the work into the future is another reason he continually to give his time freely to this cause. If chosen as a Westfield Local Hero, the grant would contribute towards the cost of keeping the Chaplain's employed and assist in the on-going task of making sure that the most vulnerable people continue to receive important spiritual and social needs.
Robyn Twemlow: Tourettes Association New Zealand (TANZ)
Generous. Determined. Devoted.
Robyn founded Tourettes Association New Zealand (TANZ) 5 years ago, after identifying the lack of support for Tourette’s suffers and their families following her daughter’s diagnosis. Through TANZ, Robyn has worked hard to establish a support network across the country, and importantly raise awareness in schools and the wider community to promote acceptance and understanding of the disability. She is currently lobbying the government to have this conditions recognised as a disability with the Ministry of Health. Her biggest achievement is the running of Camp Twitch an annual gathering of children and young adults with Tourettes, where they can be themselves without fear of bullying or ridicule. The Westfield Local Heroes grant would go directly to Camp Twitch, meaning they could offer the kids something a little more special and have the parents get that little bit more help from medical experts on how to help their children on a daily basis.