2023 Community Grant Recipients Announced

Essendon Fields is proud to announce the recipients of its annual Friends Of The Fields community grants. In total more than $80,000 was awarded in specific grants for 2023, with a special emphasis on supporting community organisations that were impacted by last year’s local flooding.

A special morning tea was held last week in the State Room of the Hyatt Place Melbourne Event Centre as Essendon Fields CEO Brendan Pihan announced the 30 recipients of the 2023 Community Grants in the presence of invited guests which included current Mayor of the City of Moonee Valley Cr. Pierce Tyson, current Councillors Ava Adams and Narelle Sharpe, and former Mayor of Moonee Valley Jan Chantry.

Amongst this year’s recipients included Riverside Golf Club, Maribyrnong Community Youth Group, Essendon Rowing Club and Footscray Rugby Union Club, who all were severely affected by the Maribyrnong River floods last year and the grants will contribute to rebuilding their facilities damaged by the overflowing waters.

Essendon Rowing Club had over one meter of water flow through its club rooms when the Maribyrnong River flooded last year and is still going through the process of rebuilding. Dale Bell, from the 140 year old rowing club, says the Essendon Fields grant will help rebuild a ground level gym floor which had to be completely removed after the flood.

“The day after the water levels receded and we began the clean-up all the club members and many members of the surrounding community came out to help. That showed the strength of our community. It was just amazing, but is was also exhausting. This grant will help the club rebuild,’’ she said.

Other grant recipients, illustrating the diversity of organisations which will benefit from the funds, included Glenroy Neighbourhood Learning Centre, Association of Ukrainians in Victoria, Second Chance Animal Rescue and the Essendon Senior Italian Citizens Club.

The Essendon Senior Citizens Italian Club was the first senior citizen club established in Victoria and over 47 years has a long history of helping proud Italian immigrants and their families remain engaged after they retire, holding monthly functions and also special overnight events where members travel to parts of Victoria to go cherry or chestnut picking.

The club, run today by Pasquale Petrollini and long standing past president Antonio Barresi, says this year’s Essendon Fields grant will be put towards a special event for later in 2023 when about 50 members will visit Portarlington on Victoria’s Bellarine coast by bus to examine its expanding mussel growing industry, stopping along the way for lunch in Geelong.

Local community sporting organisations dominate the list of grant recipients, who collectively provide support for hundreds of participants to enjoy sport across the local region, including specific grants to encourage junior and female sport participation.

Such sporting groups include the Glenroy Calisthenics Club, Hadfield Football Club, Maribyrnong Community Youth Group, Doutta Stars Cricket Club, Strathmore Heights Netball Club and East Keilor Cricket Club.

David Nugara from the Maribyrnong Community Youth Group, which had its facilities and boxing equipment badly damaged in last year’s floods, says the grant it received will help advertise its services to disaffected young people, especially those it lost contact with during COVID-19.

“Our motto is to help make young people become better citizens. As an organisation we’ve been going for 63 years and at difficult times grants like this make a big difference,’’ he said.

The Friends Of The Fields grants are now in their second year and were created by Essendon Fields as a way of contributing directly to local organisations which assist surrounding communities. In 2022, more than $40,000 was distributed to local groups.

The criteria for community groups to be eligible to apply for grants was especially extended this year to include coverage of suburbs affected by last year’s floods near the Maribyrnong River.

“The Friends of the Fields Community Grants has become a highly anticipated annual event embraced by local groups and we know each grant can make a significant difference to each individual organisation, which is why we include so many organisations. This year, in particular, we wanted to support community groups impacted by the Maribyrnong floods,’’ said Brendan Pihan, CEO of Essendon Fields.

“Essendon Fields takes its community responsibilities seriously and to allocate more than $120,000 in grants over two years to multiple organisations shows how committed we are to be being part of Melbourne’s thriving north-west region. We are proud to be part of this vibrant community,’’ he said.

The full list of 2023 grant recipients is as per below:

Riverside Golf Club
Essendon Rowing Club
Footscray Rugby Union Club
Glenroy Neighbourhood Learning Centre
Glenroy Calisthenics Club
Hadfield Football Club
Pascoe Vale North Primary School
Sussex Neighbourhood House
Doutta Stars Cricket Club
Ave Maria Kindergarten
Maribyrnong Community Youth Club
Essendon Doutta Sars Football Club
Strathmore Heights Netball Club
East Keilor Cricket Club
St Bernard’s College Old Collegians Cricket Club
Caroline Chisholm Society
Hume Sri Lankan Seniors Association
Moonee Valley Sustainability
Second Chance Animal Rescue
Association of Ukrainians in Victoria
Essendon Senior Italian Citizens Club
Maribyrnong Park Sports Club
416SQN Australian Airforce Cadets
Friends of Steele Creek
5th Keilor Scout Group
Glenroy Cricket Club
Glenroy Football Club
Glenroy Sports Club
Oak Park Football Club
St Christophers Junior Basketball Club

For more information on how you can apply for a Friends Of The Fields Community Grant of up to $5,000, please click here. Applications for round 3 open in October 2023.

For all photos from the event, please click here. Credit: Dean Trajkovski, Another Photographer.