Natalie Panzarino from Lane Cove inspires everyone around her with her selfless acts- which is why her friend Kathryn Chesnut from Mosman has entered her in the North Shore Mums Mother’s Day Competition to find the North Shore’s most inspiring mum of 2016!
Nat is one of the most inspiring and positive people I’ve met. We’ve been friends since high school, and have known, laughed and cried with each other each other through the HSC, Uni, the loss of her lovely Dad and my beautiful Mum, all manner of relationship dramas, moves overseas, hen’s parties, weddings, baby showers and the birth of our children.
Many people know Nat from her involvement in Greyhound Rescue, and would recognise her troop of fur babies from various community events. Nat tirelessly promotes ethical pet choices and campaigns for the welfare and re-homing of retired greyhounds. Nat is always one to speak out against unfair or discriminatory behaviour against people, but her kindness and values extend to those who cannot speak as well, and she works hard to educate people on the benefits of providing forever homes to the many beautiful greyhounds needing rescue. Nat fundraises for Greyhound Rescue and volunteers her time freely, despite the demands of working as a high school teacher and raising her gorgeous son.
In January 2016, Nat and another school friend of mine, Lauren, established Got a Pen? This brilliant initiative aims to provide stationary to Sydney school students who lack the basics needed to actively participate in class. Nat, being the ever kind, practical and generous person she is, had been personally buying and distributing stationary to kids at her school for some time. When Lauren mentioned that she’d like to be involved in a charity, the perfect opportunity to launch a fantastic program to help less fortunate kids arose. Many of you would have seen the Facebook posts on North Shore Mums outlining the stationary needed, and I know Nat has been overwhelmed with the level of support from the NSM community and the number of donations to date. This legend of a human has, so far, managed to put together and distribute more than 1200 kits to kids in Sydney. Imagine the benefits of 1200 kids now able to fully engage in learning – and the associated benefits to the wider school and family communities of these kids. How inspired to learn would they be, knowing that total strangers care about them, and want to encourage them to learn and fulfil their potential.
From a personal perspective, the last 18 months have shown me again and again how awesome Nat is. I had a physically challenging pregnancy, and Nat was always in the background, providing advice on anything I had a question about. I lost my mum when I was 17, and Nat is one of the amazing women in my life who have stepped up to help fill the void of a mum in this often overwhelming time in my life. She is wise beyond her years, and is a kind and generous soul. She’s always willing to offer real, practical assistance, whether it be offers of babysitting, loans of prams and baby swaddles, parenting tips, advice on everything from breastfeeding, dealing with a baby boy who seemed to like to wee on me every time I changed a nappy, introducing solids, awesome nappy bags, baby sleep, great hairdressers and brilliant parenting techniques. Add to that, being a dependable shoulder to cry on or an escape route from the madness that is parenting a newborn.
Nat is the group ‘mum’ amongst our friends. She’s the one that invites all the orphans and strays to Christmas lunch, makes sure our friends who don’t have cars can get to IKEA when they move house, has regular ‘drop in dinners’ for anyone who wants company once a week, and is the queen of jam-making.
When I see Nat with her son and husband, I am moved to be a better mum (and a better human). She is gentle, kind, patient, encouraging, funny, loving, beautiful and absolutely inspiring.
I don’t know many people (let alone busy mums) who can successfully juggle as many things as Nat, but she is always the exception to the rule.