Tommy’s first-ever Local Heroes campaign has proven so successful it has become a permanent fixture on the calendar. This time last year Tommy’s called on the public to nominate people in the community deserving of recognition for their voluntary work, with five chosen winners to receive $2000 each.

After being inundated with more than 300 nominations, Tommy’s marketing manager Henry Bong said narrowing it down to just five winners was tough.

“Our Local Heroes campaign is something we kicked off last year to mark our 20th anniversary in Wellington, but it’s something we’re going to keep doing annually,” says Henry.

Now Wellingtonians have another chance to recognise their silent heroes, with nominations opening for the 2020 Local Heroes campaign on Monday (16th of November 2020).

“This year, being the challenging year it has been with Covid, we hope to see an even bigger pool of nominations,” says Henry.

“There are many deserving volunteers out there, it could be someone who has helped out their neighbour during Covid, or a family in need, or they might help out at a sports club… anyone who gives up their time to help in the community.

“These people aren’t expecting anything, but Local Heroes is our way of thanking them on behalf of the community for all that they do,” says Henry.

Each of this year’s five winners will receive $2000 each. The only criteria are that they must be over 18 years old and their work must be voluntary.

Last year’s recipients were cake-maker Bridget Cheeseman, emergency services volunteer Chad O’Hara, volunteer extraordinaire Bryce Keith, volunteer youth worker David Lee and dependable taxi service provider Sophie Denman.

Bridget is founder of Cake It Forward, part business, part social enterprise. She works tirelessly to donate cakes on a regular basis to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access them, and regularly donates birthday cakes via Angel Tree to children who have a parent in prison on their birthday.

Chad holds down a fulltime job but also devotes many hours to his voluntary roles as station officer at Newlands Volunteer Fire Brigade and emergency medical technician with Wellington Free Ambulance.

Sophie runs Sophie’s Angels, a taxi service that helps to get vulnerable or “at-risk” passengers home safely. She has even implemented a system among Wellington bars to give free rides to help young girls get home or ensure they have a safe place to stay.

And David tirelessly works in the Newtown community with youth groups and migrant children. He has run the local community kids club for the past few years, operating out of a social housing complex, while ensuring inclusiveness for all and providing Kaibosh donated food for families in need.

Bryce is community support liaison for Wellington’s Kapura Group in Wellington, but he also spends much of his time volunteering at events, cooking barbecues and giving his hospitality to help raise money for any Wellington charity he can find.

“There are some absolutely amazing Local Heroes out there, we’ve met five of them from last year, who give so much back to the community and really pull on the heartstrings,” says Tommy’s sales director Nicki Cruickshank.

“We want to continue to recognise and acknowledge these people who go above and beyond in our communities.”

Nicki, who has been with Tommy’s for 16 years now, is also involved in the community in a voluntary capacity.

She knows community organisations and volunteers are the backbones of society, and the importance of supporting them.

“I’ve been on kindy committees, school committees, I’ve coached sports teams myself, and through Tommy’s we’ve sponsored and supported numerous organisations…”

“Without volunteers these organisations wouldn’t exist at all, so the more we can do to help, the better.”

Nicki helped to set up Given For You, a Wellington-based charity that sources and distributes care packages to families lacking the simplest of materials needed for managing every day life. This year Tommy’s donation to Given For You helped to provide more than 1000 swim bags to decile one school students in the Wellington region.

“We’re trying to help pump money back into real vulnerable families to give kids every chance, like they should have,” says Nicki.

All Tommy’s agents, Nicki says, are community-minded which is why the firm has built up a reputation for giving back. The Local Heroes campaign and the Given For You cause are just two of a number of charities and non-profit organisations Tommy’s has supported in the last year.

This year’s major beneficiary is Wellington Free Ambulance, an organisation Tommy’s has donated more than $150,000 to since 2018.

And the annual Onesie Day for Wellington Free Ambulance raised more than $10,000 this year.

“Because of Covid it was a digitally-run appeal not a street appeal this year but we wound up raising more money than any other year,” says Henry.

“We support these guys because they are the only free emergency paramedic service in New Zealand, and first response care should be available to everyone – no-one should be excluded because of cost.”

Every year Tommy also organises a charity golf day, this year’s event raising more than $40,000 and surpassing last year’s $33,000. That money is being divided between Given For You and the new Wellington Children’s Hospital which is under construction and due to be completed next year.

Tommy’s also donated commission from the sale of Wellington’s old air traffic control tower, which had an asking price of $895,000, to the children’s hospital.

“It’s another great Wellington cause that we want to help out with, and we are proud to be a part of – the new children’s hospital will be a great asset to Wellington,” says Henry.

The Life Education Trust benefited from a $10,000 donation as well, and with Christmas around the corner, the annual tradition of Tommy’s agents coming together to donate food and supplies to Wellington City Mission will begin on December 1 too.

“Christmas is a time of joy for many, but for those less fortunate – especially in this current post-Covid climate – donations like this can make all the difference,” says Henry.

While Tommy’s is a market leader, it prides itself on being big on social responsibility too.

“It’s a part of our core values, and without the community we wouldn’t be here,” says Nicki.

“This year has been a very unusual and unpredictable one with Covid, but we are grateful for the support of Wellingtonians, and the amount of trust they have given us to sell their properties, it’s been amazing.

“And there is nothing more rewarding than to give back to the community who have supported you for all these years, it’s our top priority,” she says.

Tommy’s itself has become a household name in real estate since its inception 21 years ago. With head office based in Wellington city and more than 43 staff to boot, there are eight franchised offices in Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Eastbourne, Mana, Kapiti, Tawa, Whitby and Wairarapa.

“We work hard to do what we’re best at for Wellingtonians, so for us it’s about finding a way to give something back to them, because we really do care.”

To nominate your Local Hero, click here.

Article is published on: The Dominion Post

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