Winners of EF Community Grants announced

Essendon Fields is delighted to announce the recipients of the first round of its new ‘Friends of the Fields’ Community Grants program, which will distribute over $40,000 to a range of local organisations, supporting an array of important community initiatives.

Essendon Fields received 13 applications from a variety of local groups and were so impressed by the submissions they decided to award grants to all of them.

The community projects were varied and included such groups as the Airport West Uniting Church Knitting Group, Niddrie Gymnastics and the Oak Park Community Sports Association.

The funding will help achieve everything from providing a new pottery kiln for the arts program at Essendon North Primary School to printing a new history booklet of Airport West, which will be a lasting record of the area’s past achievements.

The Essendon Fields Community Grants program was developed to support people or organisations who strive to make the region around Essendon Fields a better place to live, work and play.

Round One grants in were made available to applicants in the surrounding suburbs of Airport West, Essendon North, Oak Park, Pascoe Vale, Strathmore and Strathmore Heights. Round Two of the support grants will be advertised later this year and winners announced in early 2023, which will extend to other areas surrounding Essendon Fields.

“Essendon Fields prides itself on being an important part of the local community and this first round of the Friends of the Fields program illustrates what can be achieved by distributing funds to local groups who have important needs but can also make a significant difference. These grants will enhance the lives of everyone to young girls playing football for the first time, to the 90-year-olds enjoying being part of a knitting group,’’ said Brendan Pihan, CEO of Essendon Fields.

“To read the stories of what these recipient groups are doing for their participants is heart-warming, and each have a desire to use the grants to make that extra bit of difference to our local community. Essendon Fields is delighted to assist these organisations with their endeavours using this new grants program,’’ he said.

One of the interesting grants is to the Airport West Uniting Church Knitting Group, which is made up of 24 ladies mostly in their 70s and 80s (there are two members in their 90s who knit from home), who gather once a week at the church to knit, chat and produce garments, which are distributed by KOGO (Knit One Give One), a volunteer group initially knitting for the homeless which has grown into a recognised charity.

The group not only produce amazing knitted garments, but also create a welcoming space for the women to meet each week, an important part of their social routine given that many ageing residents live alone.

Barbara Dorward, an organiser of the knitting group, is very excited about the grant from Essendon Fields.

“The funds mean we’ll be able to get wool from the Wangaratta Knitting Mills. Normally all the ladies buy their own wool, but now we will have wool supplied which is lovely and we can plan to knit many more things for those in need,’’ she said.

“Hearing the news we were successful with our grant application from Essendon Fields gave the whole group of ladies a huge lift and it was a lovely surprise,’’ she said.

The ladies meet each Tuesday – split between those who prefer a morning or afternoon gathering – and they sit and chat and knit together in the church hall.

“It’s a lovely gathering. We do a lot of laughing, we solve the world’s problems, and we get a lot of knitting done,’’ Mrs Dorward said.

The knitting group, which has been going for five years, mainly knit scarfs, baby jackets, cot rugs, knee rugs and even blankets for those in need. Barbara says they’ve already put an order of new wool as part of the grant.

The grant to the Oak Park Community Sports Association (OPCSA) will help the club field three new junior female football teams in the EDFL competition in 2022, an outcome which will triple the number of female participants over the past two years.

The grant to the OPCSA will help the organisation pay for new team jumpers, footballs and other equipment needed to field the new female teams. During COVID it was difficult for the OPCSA to raise these funds and commit to the participation of the teams, which will now be possible.

The 5th Keilor Scout Group will use their grant to undertake a long overdue replacement of the front veranda on their ageing scout hall. The work will replace the rotten wooden tiles with a brand new Colorbond corrugated iron roof, as well as new guttering and downpipes.

Peter Krotsis, a leader of the 5th Keilor Scout Group, said the EF grant would help bring the scout hall back to life.

“It’s been a long time and the hall is in a bit of disrepair. This grant from Essendon Fields has certainly lifted our spirits and it’s provided some certainty that we can now improve our hall,’’ he said.

“The work to the balcony is important as many of the wooden slats have fallen away. If we can create a new veranda, not only does that create a better environment for our scouts and our team leaders, but it also creates a better first impression for the surrounding community,’’ said Mr Krotsis.

The 5th Keilor Scout Group has about 60-70 members, including both boys and girls, with the majority under the age of 14. It also has a number of younger members who have either health or development issues, who really value the experience of being part of the group.

“The kids really enjoy the outdoor activities, and it helps them develop social and community skills. Having the kids come along to scouts is also an enormous benefit to the parents as well, who see the growth in their children,’’ Mr Krotsis said.

The scout hall, which was a former army hut used during World War 2 and gifted to the Victorian Scouts Association more than 50 years ago, still requires further renovation. Having received the grant from Essendon Fields, Mr Krotsis said the group will continue their fundraising.

“Essendon Fields have now allowed us to start improving the scout hall. We’ll begin demolishing the old veranda soon and the new one will make a big difference,’’ he said.

The full list of grant organisations and projects for Round One are as follows:

Airport West History Group History booklet of local interviews
Airport West Uniting Church Knitting Group Knitting group supplies
Essendon North Primary School Pottery kiln for school art program
Keilor Scout Group Scout hall roof maintenance
Moonee Valley Toy Library 10th birthday community celebration
Niddrie Gymnastics New beam replacement
Oak Park Community Sports Association Girl’s footy uniforms and equipment
St Aidan’s Preschool New shade sale for kinder
St Francis De Sales Cricket Club Club memberships for junior families
Strathmore Community Men’s Shed Orbital sander and wood sander
Strathmore Split Soccer Club Portable goals for training
Strathmore Sports Club Ride on lawn mower grounds maintenance
Women in Moonee Valley Travelling tee pee women’s space

To find out more about the Friends of the Fields program, please visit