Members Statement – Spirit of Moonee Valley Community Awards

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — Congratulations to Airport West local Jonathon Tarascio, who was last Saturday awarded Moonee Valley Citizen of the Year for his work in supporting both patients and families undergoing treatment for blood cancers. I first met Jonathon in September 2015, when he sought my assistance in accessing the latest available treatment for lymphoma, and I am happy to advise that he has since then turned this into a great achievement. Since then Jonathon has gone on to bigger and better things, establishing the Green Button Foundation to further help those suffering from lymphoma and other blood cancers. On the night of his celebration Jonathon thanked his wife, Liza, for all of her support and also the dedicated young committee members driving the success of his foundation.

I must also congratulate my former primary school teacher Helen van den Berg, who was recognised for her 20‑plus years contribution to the environment, particularly with the Friends of Steele Creek. Helen van den Berg was instrumental in saving Niddrie Quarry from becoming a toxic waste site, and she continues to be a strong leader in keeping our community greener and more sustainable.

In the Contribution to Older Persons category Elizabeth Vescio was recognised for her leadership with the Avondale Heights grandparents playgroup, followed by Russell Mogg for his decades‑long service with St Monica’s Tennis Club and Moonee Ponds Bowls Club. Adrian Salvatore was awarded for his contribution to youth, most especially for his work as an ambassador for the Ascot Vale Special School.

Mary Cahill was recognised for her contribution to arts and culture through her fantastic work with the Essendon Historical Society. Farah Warsame took out the award for Contribution to Neighbourhood for his commitment to civic responsibility and leadership in the Somali community of Victoria. For her leadership at the Canterbury Street Stables playgroup in Flemington, Ruth Cook was also selected for her contribution to family.

Finally, thank you to all the awardees and nominees; you have done a great job. Every year I look forward to the Spirit of Moonee Valley Community Awards, which recognise the people that make our community what it is, and I congratulate them all.

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