This year’s Honour Roll celebrates 126 inspiring women nominated from a range of services such as Red Cross, the Cancer Council, Hospital Auxiliaries, Bush Fire Brigades, Meals on Wheels, Rescue Services and business communities. Their stories reveal just some of the ways volunteers are ensuring rural communities remain vibrant, enjoyable and sustainable places to live.
Everyone’s mum thinks they are a hidden treasure. But for local woman, PIX Jonasson, her mum’s been proven right. Nominated by her mother Di Cumming, Pix has made the 2012 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll for her service and contributions to women, small business and the greater Port Macquarie-Hastings community.
A local businesswoman and single mother, Pix Jonasson said she was proud to be included in this year’s Hidden Treasures Honour Roll, alongside many amazing NSW women who are quiet achievers in their local region.
The Central Coast is home to many hidden treasures, and now three of them have been officially recognised as such. The 2012 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll was launched last week at the 20th anniversary of the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, held in Parkes. It celebrates 126 women who have been nominated by their communities for their contributions.
MARLENE Pennings, of The Entrance North, moved to the Central Coast in 1986, buying a property facing the ocean. She soon realised the need to protect sand dunes from weeds and erosion and set about getting the community involved in dune protection. Mrs Pennings chairs The Entrance North Coastcare Group and is involved in dune care and landcare throughout the shire. She was instrumental in forming Wycare, an umbrella organisation for all volunteer community environmental groups in Wyong Shire. She is also a member of the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management committee, The Entrance Community Precinct committee, The Entrance North Progress Association, the Empowering Aboriginal Women Forum Steering Committee, and represents the Central Coast on Landcare NSW. Mrs Pennings was also the driving force behind the restoration of the 1906 Dairy Cottage on the Pioneer Dairy site at Tuggerah.
BARBARA Roach, of Gwandalan, grew up on a farm where she learned everyone had to do their fair share of hard work. When she left the farm she became a nurse and worked for NSW Health for more than 29 years before retiring to Gwandalan. She is passionate about the social wellbeing of her community, sustainability and the environment, and recently established the Gwandalan community garden, where she can be seen from dawn to dusk, sometimes seven days a week. The garden consists of 37 allotments, and has 64 adult and 14 children members. The garden produces organic food and includes a pumpkin patch, native bee hives, a frog pond, a barbecue meeting area and a native bushland regeneration project. Residents from across the community drop in for a cuppa and a chat.
HENNY Wagenaer, of Palm Grove, near Ourimbah, moved to Australia with husband Al 44 years ago and immediately fell in love with her adopted homeland. So much so, she and her husband have spent four decades giving back to the community as their way of saying, “Thanks”. Born in Belgium, Mrs Wagenaer moved with her family to Holland when war broke out and she met Al at a youth club. They married in 1958 and a few months later migrated to Australia. Unable to speak English, Mrs Wagenaer plunged into community activities, starting with the Ourimbah Hospital Auxiliary, and has since worked tirelessly organising raffles and garage sales and helping to run bus trips. The couple are also founding members of the Palm Grove Ourimbah Creek Landcare group and have spent 12 year rehabilitating their local rainforest. Mrs Wagenaer also attends Ourimbah Precinct Committee meetings. She loves line dancing and performs at local nursing homes.
The annual Hidden Treasures project, which began in 2010, is an initiative of NSW Department of Primary Industries Rural Women’s Network and is supported by Women NSW and the NSW Centre for Volunteering.
NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Community Engagement Unit Manager Sonia Muir said, “The initiative provides an opportunity to formally recognise the valuable role of volunteers in our communities and to say thank you to the more than five million people who contribute more than 700 million hours of community service across Australia.
“There are many inspiring and dedicated women out there who support the community and we believe it’s important to acknowledge their contribution.
“Without these dedicated and committed women, many groups and charities would struggle to survive.
“I encourage anyone who knows of a valued female volunteer in their rural community to nominate them next year,” Mrs Muir said.
Nominations for the 2013 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll will open on May 1 and close on August 16, 2013.
For more information on how you can nominate a treasure in your community see: http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/rwn or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 6391 3620.