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OPA ACKNOWLEDGES LUCAS’ SENSE OF COMMUNITY

The two previous recipients of the Old Paradians’ Association’s Community Service Award were amongst guests at Eltham’s Ballara Receptions on Friday, when Lucas Zugaro (2013) was named the 2018 recipient.

Jon Ellks (1984) and Alex Fabiani (1976) – Community Service Award winners in 2015 and ’16 respectively, were there to share in Lucas’ moment, with Alex presenting a glass memento and cheque for $1000 on behalf of the Association to the charity of Lucas’ choice.

“It is nice of the Old Paradians’ Association to recognise the work, although I don’t do it for that. I do it because I just like to meet the various people in our community and help out with action rather than words,” said Lucas, pictured at left with Alex and Jon.

“If there’s a message here for Old Paradians and the Parade College community, I would simply say: “If you’ve got a spare dollar or a spare hand, or five minutes in your day to do something small, do it. It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking, but it will help.”

Earlier, an audience of 60 people – amongst them College Principal Dr Denis Moore, members of the College administration and the mothers of students both past and present - heard the Parade Community Action Co-ordinator Anne-Marie Morello deliver a passionate address in respect of the dedicated work of the students in support of those less fortunate in the community.

Also present for Anne-Marie’s address was Elnaz Tavancheh (2013) and her mother Fatima.

The Old Paradians’ Association Community Service Award serves to acknowledge the many wonderful contributions of those Old Paradians who contribute significantly to the welfare of people in need. It serves to honour individuals (Old Paradians) who are community builders, creating healthy environments through their selfless actions.

The award acknowledges an Old Paradian who:

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 our community and has selflessly taken action to address the issue; and

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

Lucas’ story was beautifully told by Anne-Marie Morello just prior to the presentation, and is as follows;

 

 

I first met Lucas when he was a year 9 student in my ExCEL class and whilst l cannot say that at that time I thought he would develop into the young man he is today (as he was rather stubborn), there was always something about Lucas. He possessed an insight quite beyond his years.

Lucas always had an interest in the outreach programs offered at the College and was an active member of the Community Action team. He started volunteering at the Brekky Van in Year 10 and he quickly developed strong relationships with the patrons, who grew to love him. Something about the Brekky Van really resonated with Lucas, and he continued to volunteer most Tuesday mornings, no matter the weather, right through to the end of his schooling at Parade - despite his academic commitments. He took ownership of the program in his senior years and was instrumental in the growth of the Brekky program.

Lucas also developed his very interest in social justice whilst at the College through ‘The Cage’ initiative, an activity that raised awareness of the plight of asylum seekers held in detention. Lucas then went on to become the Social Justice prefect in Year 12 and worked hard to initiate and support events such as ‘Live below the Line’ and Project compassion. During this time, he was also very active in the Community Action Centre where he mentored the younger students and assisted me in the many projects and programs.

He has been a regular volunteer for the St. Vincent De Paul soup vans, handing out sandwiches and soup each fortnight to those who need it on Melbourne’s streets. In working with Lucas on these Saturday nights l witness first-hand the genuine care he has and the positive impact he makes to the lives of others.

Lucas has also continued to make a regular appearance at the Brekky Van most Tuesdays; for Lucas it is not about cooking the breakfast anymore, rather, he comes along to chat and maintain the relationships he has forged with many of the residents of the West Heidelberg community over the last eight years. To the delight of many of the locals he never forgets to bring his prized cake, topped with butter icing and sprinkles of course!

In 2016, Lucas completed an internship in Kununurra, WA, a remote Indigenous community close to the Argyle Diamond Mines. Lucas interned with Kimberly Community Legal Services Inc. where he helped provide legal services, advice and advocacy on a range of matters to the disadvantaged in Kununurra, many of which belonged to the local Indigenous communities. In speaking with Lucas about his experience it was evident that it was a privilege and an honour for him to be able learn and understand a bit more about our first-people’s culture and heritage.

Since his Year 12 of 2013, Lucas has been completing a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce. Upon graduation, Lucas aims to pursue a career in the legal sector.

I am really in awe of the young man that Lucas has become. He is a compassionate, intelligent young man who, for his young years, has already given so much.

The Old Paradians’ Association, on Lucas’s behalf, have made a donation to a charity of his choosing. Lucas nominated Switchboard Victoria to be the recipient of the donation. Switchboard Victoria is a not-for-profit organisation that offers support to the gender diverse, sex diverse and same sex attracted communities, and their supporters, through anonymous telephone and web counselling services. Lucas hopes that this donation will help Switchboard continue the work it does in providing support to members of his community and their allies. Further, Lucas hopes raise awareness of the support services available to the members of the Parade College community that identify as LGBTQIA+. Anyone who wishes to find out more about this organization can visit http://www.switchboard.org.au/.

It is with great pleasure that I ask Last Year’s award winner Alex Fabiani to present Lucas with the 2017 Old Paradians’ Association Community Service Award.

Congratulations Lucas, I am so very proud of you.