International Women’s Day: Women Fostering Community
International Women’s Day on 8 March will this year explore the theme of ‘Break the Bias’, aiming to reduce the stereotypes, discrimination and bias that many women face in order to “forge women’s equality”.
Glenferrie Hawthorn community is filled with women who play a significant role in community organisations and groups, volunteering their time and sharing their personal skills and knowledge to help others. The Glenferrie Times spoke to some of these women and discussed their motivation to volunteer and desire to foster and encourage our community.
In many instances, Jane Nathan began volunteering her time as she “saw a need... or was asked”. A Hawthorn local since 1979, Jane has been involved in community work in and out of Glenferrie Hawthorn for over 40 years. Her involvement initially began with her children’s kindergarten and primary school, then progressed to local council where she was elected a City of Hawthorn Councillor and later, mayor. She helped instigate the Glenferrie Road Festival. From that point on opportunities to service the community continued to come about.
Jane’s involvement has included a number of projects from housing women in need through the Woodards Charitable Foundation, to forming the Hawthorn Netball Association and organising weekly teams. Although, one of the most significant roles Jane has played is connecting individuals and encouraging others to be involved, “my whole thing is facilitating change by connecting people”.
Jane has a real knack for motivating others to participate, “it’s about access and understanding how you can contribute”. Connected to many different people through her numerous volunteer and community activities, Jane assures that, “when I’m approaching people [to volunteer], I do it because I know they would be good at it, will enjoy it, they will get things done, and will grow from the experience”.
For Jo Rush, volunteering her time fills her with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as well as providing a “sense of community”. A Hawthorn local for 18 years, Jo explains that she has an emotional connection to Glenferrie Hawthorn, making a “conscious decision to patronise the local shops”.
More than just a resident and active customer in the area, Jo is the vice president of Hawthorn Community Chest (HCC), a local charity which works “to help people in the community who might be going through a difficult time”. Jo initially began volunteering her time at St. Joseph’s Primary School when her children were small but when they “left primary school, I wanted to keep my connection with the local community” and so she seized the opportunity to be involved elsewhere.
Jo is most proud of initiating the HCC Education Program which provides funding for “education-based needs” and is currently assisting 12 local children. No longer working full time, Jo is in a position where she is able to “give something back to a community that I have got so much from”.
Bec Xuereb reflects that prior to her role on the Grace Park Hawthorn Club (GPHC) committee, she was nervous to take on a governance position because she felt she might not have a strong enough skill set.
A regular member of the GPHC for 20 years playing tennis, it was two years ago that she joined the committee - assisting in improving the management of the club and connecting members. She could have simply continued being involved in the club only as a tennis player but when another GPHC member encouraged her to participate in the committee she found that she was able to offer something new. Bec has observed a lack of confidence in individuals taking up volunteer roles but from her own personal experience she knows that everyone “has so much to add”. Coming from a corporate background working in strategic and business development, Bec has been able to implement that knowledge. She knows that it is important to encourage others as “everyone has a different set of skills” to offer.
Bec and her family have also been involved in fostering children for over 12 years through MacKillop Family Services. Over the years, they have fostered over 40 children, loving the ability “to have helped all these kids through patches in their lives”. Bec believes that it is important to get “the mix in life” and will continue to gain great satisfaction from helping out at GPHC and fostering children at home.