MERCURY SERIES: MAKING A DIFFERENCE
When Dot Hennessy was singled out for praise at the 2012 Pride of the Illawarra Awards, it was for her work in acknowledging others for their contributions to the community.
Mrs Hennessy is one of only a handful of people in the state to have received three sapphire pins as a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary's highest honour.
The most recent was for her contribution to the Pride of the Illawarra Emergency Service Awards.
While she came up with the idea and led the committee which organises the annual event, she said the awards relied on helpers from the combined Rotary clubs of the Illawarra, such as Norm Miller and Ian and Carole Johnston.
The Pride of the Illawarra Awards have been so successful that Rotary is rolling the model out nationally.
Mrs Hennessy believed it was important to celebrate the achievements of emergency services personnel who had performed above and beyond the call of duty.
She spoke to Rotarian Norm Miller about it before raising it with NSW State Emergency Service Commissioner Murray Kear.
"He thought it was a good idea and from there it just developed," she said.
"He then got onto his fellow commissioners who in turn agreed that we could do it."
Mrs Hennessy said the awards were a chance to highlight the amazing things paid and volunteer emergency service personnel did and how well all the services worked together.
Mrs Hennessy said every person nominated said they did not want any recognition and this year two finalists did not accept their nomination.
She said the common response was they did it because they loved it.
Mrs Hennessy has been invited to become a judge for the NSW Police Awards.
Mrs Hennessy grew up in Mt Kembla and attended Smith's Hill High School before she served as principal of two TAFE colleges on the mid-north coast and set up the Worldskills unit for TAFE NSW in 1993.
She returned to Wollongong to head the Illawarra institute's faculty for business services.
She later became the head of the Industry Training Services Centre for the Department of Education and Communities, the inaugural president of the Teleservices Association in the Illawarra and a director on the Illawarra Area Health Service board.
Upon retirement in 2000 after a stellar career, she received a medal for 40 years of meritorious service to the state public service which included working in housing, electricity, police and education.
Mrs Hennessy joined Illawarra Sunrise Rotary Club in 1993 then became the first female member and first female president of the Rotary Club of Wollongong.
She started serving at the district level just after she retired 12 years ago and served as district trainer, then the district chair for vocational service.
She was responsible for initiating Wollongong Rotary's annual Vocational Service Awards to give the community a chance to recognise people who did outstanding service through their vocations.
She has also been involved in many community fundraisers and projects such as the Twilight Tournaments that give disadvantaged and at-risk youth something to do on a Saturday night.
Mrs Hennessy said none of what she had achieved would have been possible without the support of her husband of 51 years, Bob Hennessy.