Vivienne Bruce named Lake Macquarie Woman of the Year for dedication to community

TIRELESS: Vivienne Bruce with state MP Greg Piper on Thursday. Picture: David Stewart

TIRELESS: Vivienne Bruce with state MP Greg Piper on Thursday. Picture: David Stewart

MANAGER of Southlakes Carers, Vivienne Bruce, has received the state government’s award for Lake Macquarie Woman of the Year.

Member for Lake Macquarie, Greg Piper, presented the award to Ms Bruce in a ceremony at the organisation’s Morisset headquarters on Thursday.

Mr Piper paid tribute to Ms Bruce’s dedication to her community through various organisations.

“I’ve known Vivienne for quite some time. It was 22 years ago when Horizons [Disability Service] first started, and Vivienne came in as a volunteer,” Mr Piper said.

Ms Bruce progressed to a casual employee with Horizons before becoming coordinator of Southlakes Neighbourhood Centre.

She later become manager of Southlakes Carers which supports local people with disabilities, the frail, aged, and their carers.

Earlier, Ms Bruce ran education groups at the Neighbourhood Centre which often provided the first step to education for people from various challenging backgrounds, Mr Piper said.

And as a volunteer of 20 years with the Salvation Army, Ms Bruce had facilitated ACE Kids Club, an after-school program; Project 31 for young women in their teens and early 20s; Women to Women, a group that empowers women; and the Reach support program for people facing life challenges including addictions.

Ms Bruce said helping people get back on their feet, and onto a positive pathway, was rewarding.

“But I’m not an island. It’s all about the team,” she said.

Receiving the award was “overwhelming” and “humbling” she said.

Among the highlights of her career occurred in 2006 when, with the help of the Salvation Army, she helped to organise delivery of a truckload of donated toys, food hampers, and other goodies for families in Wellington, which had been devastated by drought.

“That was amazing,” she said.

Mr Piper said his office received more than 2000 words in submissions from locals supporting Ms Bruce’s nomination as Woman of the Year.

He said it was indicative of the high regard in which Ms Bruce was held.