Leading with Compassion and Innovation
Many in our community will be familiar with Marie and her team for the fantastic supported playgroups they have run at Old Bar and Cundletown that are now based at First Steps Count Child and Community Centre.
Marie was also recognised for 25 years service and says the milestone has coincided with a long-term dream of hers – to find a permanent home for their playgroups at First Steps Count. “It was always my dream that one day we could find a beautiful space like this and I’ve imagined it for so long and now it’s become a reality. It’s the way I’ve always wanted to work with our participants…in their community.”
The ‘Leading with Heart” awards are based on Uniting’s values and span across the organisation of several thousand employees so to make finalist status in these awards is no mean feat. As part of the awards Marie and Katie were recognised for Leading with compassion and innovation. It was fitting recognition for this hard working team of 15 staff who deliver five programs across our community. Marie’s colleague, Peter Gilkinson also gifted her with a special artwork to mark the occasion.
Reflecting back on her 25 years of service, Marie says one of the biggest changes has been to walk alongside everyone who participates and give all participants self-determination by asking what do they want and need. “We are not there to impose our views or goals but to be there as facilitators and genuinely support parents.”
Asked what Marie likes most about her job that has sustained her over these past 25 years, Marie says that’s a no-brainer: “being part of a team environment and working with families and children. If I couldn’t work with families and children it would be like cutting off my oxygen supply.”
This love of working with families in community combined with the recent opening of the new First Steps Count integrated hub on Myall Ave was a truly joyful day for Marie and “very emotional seeing the kids cut the ribbon and open it. My dream truly has come true.”