The Old Paradians' Association RACV May luncheon provided the occasion for the induction of our latest Women of Distinction Award recipients.

This year, former teacher and founder of the highly successful community action program, Janet Donahoo and current long-time teacher and Community Action Coordinator, Anne-Marie Morello, were invited to accept this significant Award.

A significant number of people attended the event, including Janet's husband Lindsay, her son Daniel and his wife Jen Rose Donahoo. Anne-Marie's mother Elvira Morello, and her children Luca Urso and Stephanie Knowles were also present. Several members of the College leadership team, including Vice Principal, Mary Dourios, Director of Human Resources, Doreen Cutajar, Development Manager, Jenine Fogarty, and Alumni Relations Officer, Lexie Stewart, also attended the event.

Janet’s pioneering work from 1995-2007 in the community action space laid the foundations for Anne-Marie to develop and grow the Program, serving in a leadership role since 2008. The Program is a model of faith-in-action and a reflection of the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice. It is a model of service education in the Edmund Rice tradition.

Janet and Anne-Marie graciously accepted a trophy and flowers as mementos of the occasion. These were presented by two Women of Distinction, Barbara Bibby and Patricia Joss. Janet and Anne-Marie both shared their thoughts on the challenges, joy, and privilege of their roles that have been entrusted to them.

John Nicholls Introductory Speech

Your school is an Edmund Rice school, operates under an Edmund Rice Charter and been built on the back of generations of Paradians and Christian Brothers since the Brothers arrived in 1868 and established our great school in 1871

Blessed Edmund Rice worked tirelessly for the poor and marginalised to promote some form of social justice in Ireland

He was a strong servant of the needy and had a deep empathy for the suffering of others, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, and dedicated his life to providing opportunities through education.

Parade College is committed to an Education of the whole person - holistic education.

Historically it has invested in people and programs that expose generations of Paradians to the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice.

We aim to be an authentic Edmund Rice school. I believe we are in word and in deed.

Old Paradian and former Principal of 25 years Brother Denis Moore (1967) was an Edmund Rice man in the truest sense. Just as many in the room were inspired by Brothers they were taught by and who led our great school. Br Denis was an inspiration, a visionary, and promoted authentic Edmund Rice education from the moment he walked in the door in 1995.

One strength among many was his capacity to identify in his staff those who have the qualities, skills, and gifts to play particular and important roles in the life of the school.

Through the prism of the charism of Edmund Rice, Brother Denis recognised that the college needed to authentically go beyond its gates and give its students opportunities to serve the community in which we live. So-called ‘faith in action’.

The two recipients we recognise today as OPA Women of Distinction, Janet Donahoo and Anne-Marie Morello are two such people identified by Br Denis who do have the qualities to drive service education at the College.

Janet Donahoo was an amazing driver and advocate for students at the College having opportunities to engage in Ministry work through community involvement. She also was an excellent teacher at the College where a great many students benefited from her passion and knowledge in several classes including Senior English.

Qualities Janet has, to name a few, are visionary, energy, she had the capacity to bring colleagues with her, compassion, and empathy. Janet saw the educational and social benefits that these opportunities could bring to our students in growing self-esteem, and confidence.

She had the capacity to build meaningful relationships with the students in her care.

In fact, in an earlier role, I was able to see first-hand how these opportunities could be life changing, creating a safe space for students that enabled in some cases to begin to really feel connected to their school. Very many excelled.

Starting Student Ministry through Community Service Janet grew the program that engaged more and more students as her service and leadership continued. In its early days, 120 students were involved to the latter part of her tenure 500 plus were engaged in some form of service education. It was to become a central part of what our school does. More staff came on board with the support of Br Denis.

Janet’s legacy is that service education is mainstream at Parade College. She left a program highly regarded as a model for Edmund Rice schools Australia-wide. She retired in 2007 and Anne-Marie Morello took up the role in 2008 with the late Kath O’Connor.

Anne-Marie has ‘held fast to the tradition’ and has built upon the foundations laid by Janet where community service or Community action/service education is the cornerstone of social responsibility and student engagement. Sections of our student body are heavily engaged sometimes over their 6 years at the College

It is very much mainstream now. It is represented on the prefect body, students young and old are recognised through awards for service in front of the whole student body.

Anne-Marie has made a significant contribution to our College over the 33 years she has been employed. I have worked closely with her when we set up our Applied Learning program. Br Denis effectively allowed me to pick the teachers to take these classes. Anne-Marie was the first picked and embraced the challenge. She was able to bring Service Action into the Personal Development classes in the program that gave students HANDS ON experiences and learning.

Qualities, like Janet, Anne-Marie has in spades include empathy, compassion, relationship building, and passion for the cause.

She has taught VET Business, Business Management, Commerce, RE to name some of her successes in the classroom.

Some initiatives Anne-Marie has introduced or furthered include

  • Eddie's Backpacks - basic necessities for children finding themselves out of home.
  • Fundraising through the Shared Table Initiative.
  • Eddie’s Big Breakfast- weekly breakfasts to families in West Heidelberg.
  • St Albans Tutoring
  • Bluestone Corner Café- social enterprise, engagement, participation profits to College Charities
  • The Annual Christmas Party

Janet and Anne-Marie have developed a huge network of agencies that benefit from our programs that has grown to 50 plus. These include McKillop Family Services, Red Cross, Foster Care Australia (Victoria), Nursing Homes/Aged Care Centres in the north, Womens Refuges, Primary schools including the building of Cubby Houses, Refugee Centres.

The Edmund Rice Pathways Program introduced to our applied learning Year 10 students had a community-based RE program consisting of- projects, weekly nursing home visits, cards, bingo, carpet bowls, etc.

Special Development Schools children with intellectual disabilities were included in the program, a highlight the annual Churinga Brimbank Football match that was run by our VCAL students.

Music Programs and IT awareness programs in Nursing Homes

A wonderful quote on service is very apt today.

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give”.