Cel­e­brate heroes

Te Awamutu Courier - - Front Page - BY BETHANY ROL­STON

Jenni’s work to feed young­sters is recog­nised

It’s peo­ple like Jenni Wil­liams who make Te Awa­mutu a bet­ter place to live.

Jenni was among 15 Waikato peo­ple to win an award for con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­nity at the New Zealand Lo­cal Hero of the Year Awards in Hamil­ton.

The awards aim to iden­tify and re­ward peo­ple do­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary things in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Each win­ner is in the run­ning to be named Ki­wibank New Zealand Lo­cal Hero of the Year in Fe­bru­ary.

Jenni is the owner of Te Awa­mutu cafe´ Em­pire Espresso.

For the last year the cafe´ has run a pay-it-for­ward ini­tia­tive where a $6 do­na­tion buys lunch for a hun­gry stu­dent.

The lunches are made in Te Awa­mutu and de­liv­ered to lo­cal pri­mary schools and Melville High School.

Jenni came up with the idea af­ter her son’s lunch was stolen at school.

Rather than choos­ing some­one to blame, Jenni thought of a prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion.

The pro­gramme has ex­panded rapidly and is now giv­ing out about 500 free lunches ev­ery term.

The Bap­tist Church now do­nates its time and kitchen fa­cil­i­ties, and lo­cal busi­nesses have also do­nated money to the cause. The ini­tia­tive has re­ceived praise from chil­dren’s rights or­gan­i­sa­tion Unicef and been fea­tured on TVNZ’s Good Sorts.

Jenni says she was humbled to be ac­knowl­edged along­side 14 other lo­cal re­cip­i­ents.

“I was to­tally shocked when I found out, but I am grate­ful for the recog­ni­tion,” she says.

Jenni thanks the team of peo­ple who con­trib­ute to the ini­tia­tive — Em­pire Espresso head chef Lylie Mallek, vol­un­teers Leila Dex­ter and Claire Lin­coln and the peo­ple and busi­nesses who give their time, money and sup­port.

Piron­gia man Steve Thack­ray was also named a Lo­cal Hero win­ner for his con­tri­bu­tion to the Ngaru­awahia com­mu­nity, where he is prin­ci­pal of Waipa Pri­mary School.

Dur­ing his 15 years with the school, Steve has cul­ti­vated an ed­u­ca­tional en­vi­ron­ment that has changed the lives of thou­sands in the com­mu­nity.

While man­ag­ing the low decile school, Steve has pro­vided stu­dents with ac­cess to ex­ten­sive re­sources, such as their own gym.

He also per­son­ally pro­vides coach­ing, men­tor­ing and coun­selling.

Photo / Bethany Rol­ston

Em­pire Espresso owner Jenni Wil­liams has been recog­nised at the New Zealand Lo­cal Hero of the Year Awards.

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