Supportive senior Sandra named Australia‘s best neighbour
WHILE Mt Druitt’s public housing is often maligned, a Tregear woman has shone a national spotlight on the caring and supportive community network in her seniors complex.
Sandra Pereira has been named Australia’s “most extraordinary neighbour” in a national competition.
SANDRA Pereira, of Tregear, has always been known as the world’s best neighbour – and now it is official.
Mrs Pereira was named Australia’s “most extraordinary neighbour” last week after being nominated in Neighbour Day’s Tell Us Your Story campaign.
The competition invited people to write a short story of an extraordinary neighbour or neighbourly act.
The campaign prompted thousands of entries from across the nation, but none impressed more than the great-grandmother who had brought life back to her senior’s public housing complex in Tregear.
Cathy wrote about neighbour extraordinaire Sandra, whose commitment to the community has created a supportive social network.
Mrs Pereira said her Balleny Place unit complex was home to hundreds of seniors and its garden had been overrun for years.
“From my kitchen window you could see this area and it was completely overgrown with weeds; there was no grass at all,” she said.
“I kept looking at it thinking that it would be the perfect place for the garden.”
Mrs Pereira took the idea directly to Housing NSW which agreed to have a meeting with the residents to discuss the idea.
“I got a lot of resistance from the residents to start off with; they were scared that a garden would attract riffraff and thieves – there was a lot of negativity,” Mrs Pereira said. “But I didn’t let the idea go. “Eventually we got approval and got to the garden; it took us a month and a half to clear out the whole area.”
The garden is now flourishing with several garden beds, trees and park benches for the residents to soak in the sun.
Mrs Pereira said the residents’ attitudes had changed. “All the residents are starting to take pride in it,” she said.
“If I am away they will water it and look after everything; everyone does their little bit.”
On top of the garden, Mrs Pereira also has organised a number of community functions at the complex.
“I came up with the idea of the community group ... we do Christmas lunch every year and last year we did Melbourne Cup which was a roaring success. Everyone can’t wait to do it again this year.
“The garden and the community functions have really brought all the neighbours closer together.”
There is no rest for the mother of six with her next project, a big Christmas in July event, in sight.
She’s also keen to get a community exercise class at the complex.
“I am just gardening and putting on a few community events, it’s not a big deal,” Mrs Pereira said of being a nationally recognised “good neighbour”.
Sandra Pereira has a chat with her neighbour Max Cahill.