NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian presented locals Dean Evers (right) and Aunty Kerrie Burnet with Community Service Awards in Coffs Harbour on October 26.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian presented locals Dean Evers (right) and Aunty Kerrie Burnet with Community Service Awards in Coffs Harbour on October 26.

Premier left ‘heartened’ by our local heroes

EVEN the Premier of NSW appeared awe-struck when hearing the stories of selfless dedication shown by local champions Dean Evers and Aunty Kerrie Burnet.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian was in Coffs Harbour today, where she and Coffs MP Gurmesh Singh presented the charitable locals with Community Service Awards at the Hope for Homeless site.

"In my travels across this great state, I'm always heartened by the outstanding work in our communities by people who give selflessly," she said.

"They are forces for good and I applaud them for their positive influence on the ground every day."

 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian presented locals Dean Evers and Aunty Kerrie Burnet with Community Service Awards in Coffs Harbour on October 26.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian presented locals Dean Evers and Aunty Kerrie Burnet with Community Service Awards in Coffs Harbour on October 26.

 

Mr Evers, a former Department of Community Services worker, started Hope for Homeless around four years ago when he recognised there was a need for an independent charity to support Coffs locals who were homeless.

Since then the charity has helped countless people, providing household items for those in need, free of charge.

Aunty Kerrie Burnet has been helping young people from disadvantaged areas in her street in Toormina - providing them with meals and even holding Christmases and other festivities for them when their families can't.

On top of this, Aunty Kerrie goes to the effort of mowing community land to make sure the children have somewhere safe to play.

Aunty Kerrie was humble when accepting the award, and thanked the Premier for visiting.

"Thank you for taking the time to come here, and thank you to Dean," she said.

"I want to acknowledge Dean because he's also contributed to the wellbeing of the kids, with hygiene packs, shoes, backpacks for school."

 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks with Hope for Homeless Coffs Harbour founder Dean Evers.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks with Hope for Homeless Coffs Harbour founder Dean Evers.

 

Aunty Kerrie has recently been working alongside Rise Coffs Harbour after they coincidentally set up across the road from her house.

Mr Singh said that Rise is a local venture which recently received a Government grant, and aims to bring the community together through sport.

"You've made a real difference to the lives of the kids on that street," Mr Singh told Aunty Kerrie.

Ms Berejiklian was also in Nana Glen today, where she presented Community Service Awards to Alison Johnson and Debbie Worldon for their remarkable efforts during the 2019-20 bushfires.

 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh presented locals Dean Evers and Aunty Kerrie Burnet with Community Service Awards at the Hope For Homeless site in Coffs Harbour.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh presented locals Dean Evers and Aunty Kerrie Burnet with Community Service Awards at the Hope For Homeless site in Coffs Harbour.

 

Ms Johnson acted as the community's first point of contact, with her cafe serving as a drop-off for emergency supplies. She also helped the RFS by providing advice, foods and drinks.

Ms Worldon co-ordinated storage and distribution of essential items to people in need, and helped arrange temporary accommodation for people who lost their homes and helped organise clean-ups of properties.