[caption] Janelle Saffin with NRSDC CEO Tony Davies officially opening the organisation’s new home at the old radiology building in Lismore.
Story and photos Melissa Hargraves
The 2013 Community Sector Ball and Awards Night will celebrate and acknowledge the unsung heroes in our community who dedicate their lives to helping others in our community.
Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC) invited Janelle Saffin MP yesterday to simultaneously launch the awards and their new offices in the old radiology building in Keen Street, Lismore.
Good news came through to NRSDC during the launch as another major sponsor committed to the event, which is in its third year.
NRSDC is calling for nominations for the 2013 Community Sector Awards. Award nominations will be open from August 22 until October 14 and award winners will be announced at the 2013 Community Sector Ball and Awards Night on November 9.
There are six Award categories including a new category, ‘Lightbulb Moment’, which recognises the provision of innovative solutions to community needs or problems.
Other award categories are: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty, Most Inspirational, In the Line of Fire, Centre of the Universe and Community Group or Team.
Ms Saffin is battling bronchitis, which she admitted wasn’t great for an election campaign, but was happy to continue ‘soldiering on’.
‘When this event ran the first time, we all thought why hadn’t this run before? It was so self-evident that we should have it as we have awards for everything, but generally we haven’t had them for the community sector.
‘Our region’s community sector is so strong and vibrant.’
Ms Saffin has previously judged these awards and shared the difficulty.
‘It is nearly impossible; it is like judging babies. Never do it, particularly if you are a politician!’
Mayor Jenny Dowell was to officiate the double launch but, owing to a family tragedy, was unable to attend.
‘I’d like to say that I have stepped in for mayor Jenny Dowell… it is fitting that she had been invited to do this launch as she had been the president of NRSDC. I also have history and a deep affection for this organisation – I was an executive officer in a different incarnation when it was Richmond Tweed Social Development Council,’ Ms Saffin said.
NRSDC’s renovations are almost finished in the old radiology building, which Ms Saffin said was ‘also a health and caring facility’.
Graham Mapstone of event sponsor Multitask said, ‘the NRSDC will bring a whole new heart and soul to their new building. From a personal perspective, it will be exciting to walk out that front door and not have to put the credit card on the counter to pay for radiology!
‘It is a great honour for our organisation to be a sponsor of this award ceremony. Across the sector there is a vast majority of people doing great jobs; they are not visible, and they certainly don’t do it for money. It is not the money that keeps people in the sector.’
Youth Connections North Coast (YCNC) is a new sponsor this year. Sonia Martindale-Vale told the crowd, ‘The awards night will be a night to highlight and thank those people who give one hundred and forty per cent every day’.
‘This goes beyond the sector – the public get behind this as they could be nominating the volunteer that came into their home after their mum had a stroke, the home visiting nurse who helped them bring their new baby home for the first time.
‘YCNC have gone each year but this year we wanted to sponsor the event and get on the planning committee and help these guys (NRSDC) who have championed it fantastically… we’d like to help rev it up.
‘We are going to use the event as a team-building opportunity, build our masks – as it is a masquerade ball – and have some fun!
‘So get your nominations in, come to the event and cheer on the community services sector.’
John Brice from Meridian Health in Goonellabah made a commitment to being a major sponsor whilst attending the launch.
‘Better late than never,’ he told Echonetdaily. ‘I have been in the area seven years chipping away and taking little steps. We are also branching out into community services, such as being a major sponsor at this year’s Youth Homelessness Matters Day.
‘My passions are in the community, like everyone else here today.’
Liina Flynn, communications officer at NRSDC, told Echonetdaily, ‘What I’ve noticed is that the people who are nominated genuinely believe that they don’t deserve the recognition, yet they are the ones who give so much.
‘These awards are a way that the community can give back by nominating and thanking them. I have personally heard stories that this simple recognition has inspired people to keep on going. These people help people through difficult times in their lives – which is tiring and draining – and their work makes this community a better place to live in.’
Start thinking about who you would like to nominate for one of this year’s Community Sector Awards. Award nominations close 5pm Monday, October 14, 2013. Go to http://www.nrsdc.org.au/ball.html for more details.