Cheralyn Darcey of Lake Munmorah and Lynda Elsley of Chittaway Bay have been nominated for NSW Community Achievement Awards for 2021.
Darcey, the Garden Co-ordinator at Sustainable Wetlands Agricultural Makers Project (SWAMP), a gardening columnist at Central Coast Newspapers and host of a segment on Coast FM, was nominated by Coast FM producer, Sarah Warry, for her contributions and volunteer work in the community.
Darcey said: “They contacted me, and I was surprised by the nomination, and it was Sarah from Coast FM that nominated me with support from Liesl Tesch and Sue Bradley from SWAMP.
“It means a lot being recognised for the things that I do and I hope that my nomination inspires the community to get out there and start volunteering,” Darcey said.
Her advice to people in the community looking to undertake volunteer work is to find what you enjoy doing and start from there.
“Start with what you like and find groups or people that can link you to volunteer work.
“If you like gardening, join a community garden or do what I did and start your own, or if you like driving you could do Meals on Wheels deliveries.
“There are endless opportunities, so start off with what you like and go from there,” Darcey said.
Elsley is the co-ordinator for Northlakes High School’s Leo Club, a Lions Youth group operated through the school where Elsley is the school counsellor.
She was nominated by Vicki Jameson, a grandparent of one of the students involved in the club which has 31 members.
Elsley said: “I was really surprised, shocked and delighted when I found out.
“I really appreciate the nomination and I really love working with the Leos, they’re a lovely bunch and they are full of spirit.
“The Leos club is for students from Year 7 through to Year 11, and we host fundraisers and do volunteer work.
“Our main fundraisers are the Bunnings barbecues, and chocolate boxes, and this year we participated in the Northlakes Toukley Rotary Club Community Raffle, which we sold the most tickets for, which we donated to charities including Let’s Help Bali.
“We also host our Fashion Fairs which are held in March and October but due to COVID we couldn’t run them this year.
“At these we sell donated clothes cheaply to raise money, and we usually raise around $400.
“We also run Belle of the Ball where we get formal dresses donated to us and we give them to girls in need.
“We had seven dresses donated last year and we’ve received 10 this year.
“Some of these are brand new or only worn once, and a woman who runs a boutique saw a poster for this and donated 40 dresses.
“We also have crocheted 60 blankets to donate to nursing homes in our community.
“We also support Camp Breakaway by running barbecues, cake stalls and jewellery stalls at their market days.
“The reason we started the Leo Club at Northlakes High School is because the Principal, who is a Lions Club member, said that if we wanted to start one in the school we could, so we did.
“It’s been a massive confidence boost for our members, and this has been a great way to inspire my students.
“The Leos are my pride and joy,” Elsley said.
The Community Achievement Awards started in 2002 as the NSW Regional Achievement and Community Awards, with the purpose of encouraging, acknowledging and rewarding the valuable contributions that individuals, communities and businesses are making throughout regional NSW and the ACT.
The awards create the opportunity to recognise the hard work and dedication and their contribution to the future of regional NSW.