Kevin McMahon, an Old Paradian of the final year class of 1965 and the newly-appointed Victorian President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, became the most recent recipient of the Old Paradians’ Association Community Service Award, at the Association’s High Tea at Eltham’s Ballara Receptions in September.

Established in the Association’s Centenary Year of 2014, the Community Service Award acknowledges those Old Paradians who contribute significantly to the welfare of those in need.

The award recognises and honours Old Paradians who are community builders, creating healthy community through their contributions and commitments, and may include the following criteria, in that the recipient:

promotes a vision of responsible community membership which is respectful and inclusive of all ages, cultures and abilities;

demonstrates the spirit of creativity, innovation and initiative by responding in a proactive manner to an issue relevant to the well-being of our community;

has identified an issue in the community and has selflessly taken action to address the issue; and

promotes a belief and recognises the value of volunteerism to community and individuals.

Kevin, accompanied by his wife Sue to the function, was also presented with a cheque for $1000 to be forwarded to the charity of his choice. He is the Association’s fourth award winner after Lucas Zugaro (2013), Alex Fabiani (1976) and Victoria Police Sergeant Jon Ellks (1984).

Earlier this year, Kevin spoke of his life's journey in an address to the Association at its monthly luncheon at the RACV City Club.

There, he talked of his work with St Vincent de Paul, and also of his 12 years of volunteering as a teacher at Providence school in Shillong, India - during which time he has led staff and students on a total of eight immersion trips to the area for Parade College.

Kevin’s elevation to the St Vincent de Paul Society Presidency follows a long involvement with the society from home visitation with his Conference to leadership roles.

A past president of the Diamond Valley Region and the Northern Central Council, Kevin was a member of the Overseas Development Committee from 2014 to 2017 and vice-president of the Membership and Leadership Committee for the same period.

Significantly, Kevin’s first work with the society can be sourced to his school days.

“Back in those days in Year 12 at Parade, everybody joined what they called the Sodalities, and I joined St Vincent de Paul,” Kevin said. “I remember going out to chop some timber in some fellow’s back yard and while there was no such thing as a de-brief back then it always stuck with me that this was something practical.

“I found that once I started doing the home visits, which is the core part of our work, I loved it and I found that I was actually reasonably good at it. I don’t get fussed by seeing people living in conditions that mightn’t be where I’d like to live. I sit and talk to people and then get around to what they really want from us.

“We don’t ask people what their religious background is, we don’t ask what their sexual orientation is – we don’t ask anything except ‘How’s life going? What can we do to help?’.”

If you are motivated and community-minded and would like to follow Kevin McMahon and lend your support to St Vincent de Paul, the society truly welcomes volunteers, particularly those nearing retirement who may have discovered lost time to help.