There passions differ but Shellharbour’s Citizen of the Year winners share a common goal to make a difference.
Albion Park Rail resident Helen McKay loves teaching children to swim and Shell Cove sisters Jasmine, 13, and Sienna, 10, Kaschubs are committed to reducing household landfill waste.
Mrs McKay has been named the Citizen of the Year and the sisters are the joint recipients of the Young Citizen of the Year title.
Shellharbour City Council will recognise the dedicated residents at its Australia Day celebrations at Reddall Reserve today.
Mrs McKay said it was a “surprise and great honour” to be recognised with the accolade.
“I have loved living in Shellharbour,” she said. “My husband and I moved here in 1955. It has always been my home.
“I have always worked from the Oak Flats pool.”
Mrs McKay and her husband Ted, who passed away in 2008, were recognised for their 40 years of volunteer swimming coaching when the council named an Oak Flats’ pool after the couple earlier this month.
The McKays began teaching learn to swim classes and swimming coaching sessions in 1968. They started the Oak Flats Swimming Club to help children.
Fifty years later, Mrs McKay still coaches from the sidelines and is heavily involved in the club.
“My greatest achievement is seeing a child learn to swim because they may one day help someone else,” she said.
“We have never turned any child away who wanted to learn. I love teaching swimming. It is my passion. Generations of families come back to the club.”
Mrs McKay thanked her supportive family and the past and present club committee members.
The Young Citizens of the Year were nominated for their commitment to the environment and waste minimisation.
The girls, along with their mother Kellie, started the Two Week Red Bin Challenge Facebook group where residents are challenged to make easy changes to reduce household waste.
The girls embarked on an environmental challenge, producing videos, photos and social media posts which resulted in increased engagement and awareness around waste management and environment issues in Shellharbour City.
“We are very excited and grateful to be presented with the award,” Jasmine said.
“People have told us our challenge has helped them make a difference in the amount of their waste that goes to landfill.”
“We hope the award helps us to spread the word to others to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste,” Sienna said.
“We also want to educate people about stopping landfill going into the ocean.”
Their passion for helping the environment comes from their love of animals and nature and believe plastics should be reused and turned into other useful items.
Mrs Kaschubs said she was “incredibly proud” of her daughters.
“They bring an enthusiasm to the challenge and do a lot of work,” she said. “Sienna stars in the videos and Jasmine edits them. They make the challenge fun and make adults believe that they can do it if kids can.”
The girls want to spread their recycling message further to schools and businesses.
They won two Keep Australia Beautiful Awards in October.