Michelle Key, Founder of North Shore Mums Smiles2U was awarded Citizen of the Year by Ku-ring-gai Council at a special ceremony at Knox Grammar on Australia Day. The winners of the 2021 Ku-ring-gai Australia Day Awards were announced by Mayor Jennifer Anderson . Each year, these awards are presented in recognition of groups and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the local community.
Mayor Jennifer Anderson said all those receiving this year’s awards had demonstrated extraordinary effort in helping their local community at a time of unprecedented stress. She said,
“The pandemic has not stopped the many hundreds of other volunteers who have worked round the clock to help local people. This year more than ever we should all recognise and applaud their effort and contribution to the community.”
Citizen of the Year – Michelle Key, North Shore Mums Smiles2U
Michelle is the founder of North Shore Mums Smiles2U and just last month saw it become an official charity. Smiles2U provides activity and care bags to children in local hospitals, as well as toiletry packs for parents caught unprepared for hospital stays, cancer care packs and care packages for parents staying at the children’s palliative care facility Bear Cottage.
This year Michelle has also become an invaluable member of the Wheels For Ryan fundraising team which managed to raise over $75,000 in five months to help a local family purchase a vehicle suitable for their disabled child. Michelle is also walking to raise money for the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter.
Michelle has coordinated community responses for Share the Dignity bags for homeless women and also toiletry packs for female RFS volunteers during last year’s summer bushfires. Mother of three Michelle is a selfless individual who takes great pride in helping others and building community spirit through a range of activities.
Michelle has received a huge amount of support and kind word from her supporters in the North Shore Mums community.
Michelle is very humbled by the support, sharing:
“I’m so overwhelmed with the support and messages from our local community. It was humbling to know I was nominated for the award last year by members of our community, but to be called and told I had won the award was both equally humbling and emotional. Tears of joy and happiness rolled down my face as I was taking it all in. I am beyond grateful for the community that has come together to support Smiles2U over the last 6 years. I love what we do and I love the joy that Smiles2U brings to so many beautiful children who are in hospital. I say a huge thank you to all of you for your support, it means so much to me.” – Michelle Key
Young Citizen of the Year – Edward Giles
In 2019, Edward established a partnership with the Ku-ring-gai Council through his leadership role at Killara High, recognising a lack of support for young people’s mental health. Edward and other school prefects hosted an event to advertise Gordon Youth Centre’s services for young people with mental health issues. Edward attended a mental health forum at Macquarie University to learn about new resources and initiatives which were then implemented and promoted at Killara High. Edward has become an influential voice of young people in the community and portrays leadership and integrity wherever he goes.
Young Environmental Citizen of the Year – Ella Di Moro
Ella started The Pink Pantry whereby people put their excess food, plants and popular items to share with the community and saving landfill, waste and cost. Ella encourages gardening and composting in her neighbourhood, operating a free pantry of home-grown products outside her home. She administers a Facebook page called The Pink Pantry so members can find out what seedlings, fruit, vegetables, flowers, and other produce have been added. She paints her own bird houses, makes bee hotels and supplies local residents with horse, chicken and cow manure. She grows her own seedlings to give to residents to attract bees. Her work in establishing and maintaining the Pink Pantry in Wyomee Street West Pymble demonstrates generosity and leadership in helping the local environment and stimulating great community spirit.
Environmental Citizen of the Year – Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai
Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai was established in 2019 with a Ku-ring-gai Council environmental grant. The not for profit has been set up to rescue plants often thrown away when a property is demolished and the block is cleared. The recovered plants are then found a new home with local residents or in school gardens. Fifteen sites have had plants rescued, with over 250 plants finding new homes.
Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Service by a Community Organisation – Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury Christmas Hamper Appeal
Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury’s Christmas Hamper Appeal has been supporting vulnerable people in the community since 2008. Christmas hampers are supplied to people, particularly families, who are in financial distress, experiencing mental health issues, job loss, relationship breakdowns, domestic violence or in poor physical health.
Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury relies on local volunteers to manage and implement this project; including gathering donations of foods and gifts, packaging and distribution. The volunteers travel for miles picking up donations, wrapping presents and packing hundreds of hampers. Each year, the number of Christmas hampers increases and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure every donation is distributed to those in need. Partnerships have been formed with organisations such as local Rotary Clubs, churches, Ku-ring-gai Council, Ravenswood School, local businesses and other community organisations to ensure that no-one goes without at Christmas.
Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Service by a Community Organisation – Kissing Point Sports Club
The Club has been an integral part of Ku-ring-gai’s sporting and social life since 1957, run by a team of dedicated volunteers who recognise the importance of team sports. The club provides a shared constitution, governance and financial oversight for five sporting codes, all managed independently by volunteers. These are baseball, cricket, football, netball and softball. In 2020 alone, the Club catered for more than 2000 players ranging in age from 5 to 65, both male and female of all abilities. In addition, the club provided volunteering roles for several hundred teenagers and adults (coaches, managers, referees, scorers and more). In spite of the unique challenges presented in 2020, KPSC volunteers continued to deliver sport to members, and in fact some codes experienced significant growth in player numbers.