When Maria-Elena Chidzey won Northern Beaches Council’s citizen of the year award this year, she could not believe it. The award came completely out of the blue.
“It was amazing, a tremendous honour and recognition of the work we do at the Community Centre and the various organisations I belong to,” she said.
But son Alexander almost gave the game away. When he was assisting his mother’s friend Maria, who nominated her for the award, to compile the award submission, she suspected “something was going on”.
For more than 27 years, she has been a staunch advocate for migrants living on the northern beaches. She, herself, was a migrant, having emigrated in the 1970s from England, but originally came from Colombia.
“The award made me proud of my work and happy that what we do at Community Northern Beaches is recognised and seen as value to the community.
“It means that the Council and the people involved in the awards appreciate the benefit to the whole community of the work we do.”
As multicultural services manager at Community Northern Beaches, she said she would continue to promote migrants interests and help them get more support.
Already having achieved much for migrants and refugees, one of the things she would still like to do is to complete a study of the migration process for people whose culture and living conditions differ markedly from those in Australia.
“It would have a particular emphasis on the Northern Beaches and we could focus on our Tibetan community as a case study,”
When asked what advice she has for people thinking of nominating someone for the awards, she said: “Do it, don’t just think about it”.
Nominations for Northern Beaches 2019 Australia Day awards close soon (November 19).
If you know anyone who has done extraordinary things for the community, like Maria and others who won awards in Council’s Australia Day awards, then be sure to nominate them.
You never know; the person you nominate may become Northern Beaches Council’s Citizen of the Year in 2019, the next Maria.
There are six categories of awards: Citizen of the Year (16yrs or older), Senior Citizen of the Year (65yrs or older), Young Citizen of the Year (16 to 25yrs old), Sportsperson of the Year and Community Event of the Year. Up to 15 locals will also be acknowledged with Outstanding Community Services awards.