EF announces winners of 2024 Community Grants

Essendon Fields COO Kathy Craig has announced the 24 recipients of the Friends of the Fields community grants for 2024.  In total more than $80,000 was awarded in specific grants for 2024, bringing the total allocated to help local organisations undertake important projects for the benefit of the local community to $200,000 over the last three years.

As per previous years, the organisations to receive funds were varied to ensure that a broad cross section of community groups benefited, including the Airport West Early Learning Co-operative, a host of local sporting clubs and a number of local primary schools. Generally smaller community organisations featured, who more often than not are overlooked or struggle to fundraise in their own right, receiving the funds they needs to undertake projects which will have local significance.

Grant recipients included:

  • Aberfeldie Sports Club
  • Airport West Early Learning Cooperative
  • Avondale Heights Football Club
  • Cekor Macedonian Dance Company
  • Essendon Netball Club
  • Essendon Royals Soccer Club
  • Circolo Pensioati Italiani Di Essendon [Essendon Senior Italian Club]
  • Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek
  • Glenbervie Stationeers
  • Hadfield Football Club
  • Maribyrnong Park Football Club
  • Merri-bek Toy Library, Pascoe Vale
  • Moonee Valley Beekeepers Club
  • Moonee Valley Football Club Inc
  • Niddrie Gymnastics
  • North-West Tigers Netball Club Inc
  • Oak Park Football Club Inc
  • Pascoe Vale Hadfield Cricket Club
  • Pascoe Vale North Primary School
  • Pascoe Vale Sports Group
  • Strathmore Cricket Club
  • Strathmore Heights Cricket Club
  • St Vincents De Paul Tennis Club
  • WestBreen Primary School

Ms Craig said Essendon Fields was thrilled to once again offer the Friends of the Fields community grants program.

“Essendon Fields is proud to play a significant community role, not just as a major local employer or critical base for Victoria’s emergency service airwings, but by directly giving to important community organisations,’’ she said.

“It’s always a pleasure to meet the people who work so hard as volunteers or parents when we allocate the funds for Friends of the Fields to a variety of local clubs or schools.  Some of the stories we hear about the difference these organisations are making in their local communities is so heart-warming.”

“Friends of the Fields if just one of the many community or charitable causes that Essendon Fields support. We have been long-term sponsors of Airport West Football Club Juniors and the Essendon Baseball Club and each year we consider a different charity to support for our Christmas giving donation. Last year it was Helping Hands Mission and this year it could be another fantastic cause,’’ she said.

Last weekend’s annual Essendon Fields Golf Classic on King Island also raised $32,343 for Make-A-Wish Australia, seeing a total of $165k raised over the event’s seven year tenure.

Georgie Thorneycroft, Mental Health & Wellbeing Leader as well as School Nurse at Westbreen Primary School, said the funds received would help complete a memory and sensory garden at the school, a project she started four years ago when the much-loved canteen manager Robyn Wilson passed away, who had helped in various volunteer capacities at the school for over 17 years. The garden will not only be a memorial for her contribution, but for any student or teacher who has lost a loved one in their lifetime.

“It’s difficult to put into perspective just how fantastic and helpful it was to receive the funding to enable us to create and complete a vision that I had about the garden. This project will be something that will continue to benefit the students of Westbreen for many years to come which makes this project even more special,’’ said Georgie.

The Moonee Valley Beekeepers Club (MVBK) received a grant to assist them to buy more protective equipment, which would in turn encourage new members or visitors to join.

“The funds will help people just starting out or considering taking up beekeeping, already experienced beekeepers, and bee enthusiasts. Currently, the club has just over 40 members, comprising mostly adults and some junior members,’’ said Paul Kucera, Secretary of MVBC.

“To be awarded an Essendon Fields Community Grant means a great deal and is a major boost for MVBC. The PPE project will enable us to improve and expand our operations at the club’s apiary, which forms a very important component of our training and development program. Here less experienced beekeeper members can team up with more experienced Team Leads, learn first-hand how to best manage and look after bee colonies and enhance their skills.’’

“All of this helps us achieve a core part of our purpose, which is to promote and enhance beekeeping practice. Moreover, with ambitions to engage more with the broader community, youth, and schools in educating about bees and fostering improvements to environments for pollinators within our community, we anticipate offering small groups of visitors the opportunity to see bee colonies up close and learn more about their importance in the world,’’ he said.

The Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek was another beneficiary of the Friends of the Fields grants program.

“We are a friends group made up of volunteers who put their personal time and efforts towards a great cause, which is the preservation, restoration, environment protection and ecologically sensitive development of the Moonee Ponds Creek,’’ said Richard Smith from Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek.

“However, volunteer time alone is not enough to address the many challenges currently facing the creek. That’s why partnerships and grants like the Friends of the Fields are so important to us. They help us to access specialist skills, equipment and services via contractors. This means our community projects, supported by contractors, can be more impactful in maintaining and improving the creek,’’ he said.

This year is a special year for Essendon Netball Club, and it plans to celebrate its 30th anniversary by bringing to life its “Unity Through Art and Culture” program.

“This grant enables us to engage a First Nations artist to design a unique artwork for commemorative uniforms, emphasizing themes of unity, resilience, and community. This initiative is not just about celebrating our history but also about fostering cultural appreciation, celebrating diversity, and strengthening our commitment to the Indigenous community within our club,” said Lynette Round, Marketing and Sponsorships Co-ordinator for Essendon Netball Club.

“The grant will also support our community engagement program, including hosting an event to unveil the new uniform, featuring the First Nations artist, and conducting an Indigenous education and engagement session. These activities aim to enhance cultural awareness and understanding within our netball community, foster a sense of pride and unity among members, and strengthen relationships with First Nations members by demonstrating our commitment to their culture and heritage,’’ she said.

“Through this program, we hope to leave a lasting legacy that symbolizes our ongoing commitment to cultural appreciation and acknowledges the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners of the lands we live and play on. We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to celebrate unity, diversity, and netball excellence at Essendon Netball Club.’’

The 2024 Friends Of The Fields grants program will open in Q3 2024. To stay in the loop, please sign up to our newsletter here