The 2021 Westfield Local Heroes have been announced. The program awarded each Westfield Local Hero a $10,000 grant to recognise the positive impact they are making to the local community. Here are their stories.
Andy Brittain, Geelong Youth Engagement
Andy Brittain has spent the past nine years helping at-risk youth turn their lives around through an intensive personal and physical development program delivered by Geelong Youth Engagement.
Andy developed the concept for the year-long program while working as a police officer. The Geelong Kokoda Youth Program finishes with a demanding trek along the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea.
Up to 16 teenage participants are selected from local state high schools who are facing different challenges in their lives which may include struggles with mental health, self-harming, homelessness, anti-social behaviour and family violence.
Andy is rewarded by seeing past participants continue on to be successful into their adult lives following their involvement in the program.
“It has reinforced that I am on the right path,” Andy said.
“My motivation to do more is getting stronger as there are many more people in our community needing our help.”
Anthony Woodbury, Feed Me Bellarine
Anthony Woodbury stepped away from his burgeoning career as a chef to co-found Feed Me Bellarine, which provides thousands of meals a month to families in need.
Anthony is an exceptional chef and was climbing the culinary ranks. Then he had a chance conversation with local caterer Lana Purcell, who had started packaging leftover food to donate. The outcome of their chat was Feed Me Bellarine.
The pair rescue food and meals from local hospitality and wholesale businesses to distribute. They also source fresh produce to create chef-quality dishes with the help of over 100 volunteers.
They have distributed more than 100,000 meals over the past two years.
The charity also runs a supermarket where families can pick up fresh produce and a cafe that serves gourmet meals on a pay-what-you-can basis.
Apart from filling bellies, Anthony has helped save more than 238,000kg of food from landfill.
Anthony likes to fly below the radar and feels humbled to be nominated as a Westfield Local Hero.
“I was head chef at various wineries and grew up in extreme poverty,” he said.
“So when the opportunity to use leftover food and meals to benefit the public came up, I went for it with all I had.”
Claire Faulmann, OneCare Geelong
Claire Faulmann refused to let the pandemic interrupt OneCare’s mission to support marginalised people through food relief and counselling.
Claire took over the CEO reins just two days before the pandemic was declared and swung into action to ensure her team and volunteers could continue their work as lockdowns forced many other community services to shut their doors.
Under her guidance, the charity extended rather than shuttered its programs. The weekly community meal and foodbank service for 70 people expanded to deliver 500 meals a week.
OneCare’s programs are designed to support those who are socially isolated and disadvantaged, through meeting immediate practical needs and providing strong relationship connections.
Claire is admired by her team and volunteers for her positive attitude, collaborative approach and commitment to introducing new initiatives that promote increasing life skills and community participation.
“I believe that we have a responsibility to be kind, to share the wealth that we have and to empower others to make meaningful changes in their lives. It is an absolute privilege to do what I do,” she said.