Footscray’s volunteer West Marijke Fotia wins this year’s new leader

By Molly Magennis

Footscray’s Volunteer West Regional Host has been named Emerging Leader of the Year at the Third Sector Awards.

Marijke Fotia has been with Frivillig Vest since May 2020, but has spent her entire life being involved in the volunteer sector.

Ms Fotia said she did not expect to win and she was happy enough to be announced as a finalist.

“I did not even expect to be a finalist. To then go up to Sydney and be announced as the winner of the evening was pretty amazing,” she said.

As the regional host, Ms Fotia oversees the organization’s program delivery and runs a network of voluntary engagement for people looking after volunteers, whether they are in a paid role or volunteering.

“I also run some training programs for leaders or coordinators of volunteers, especially at the moment we are focused on inclusion and diversity, so we are looking at how we can ensure that people with disabilities, people with immigrant backgrounds and different first nations backgrounds [are] involved in volunteer work. ”

Ms Fotia said her favorite thing about the role is meeting and getting in touch with volunteer practitioners.

“I think everything that has to do with volunteers is amazing, but what I love to hear are the stories of the people who support the volunteers and what they do,” she said.

Prior to joining Volunteer West, Mrs Fotia volunteered for Migraine Australia after suffering from chronic migraines.

“I think it’s a really good way to get control back when you’re a patient yourself, it’s a way to get a little bit of control and understanding back over your illness or health problem,” Ms Fotia said.

She is very passionate about volunteering and even though she is no longer involved in Migraine Australia, she still finds time to volunteer at her daughter’s school.

“Volunteering and volunteering have been a part of my life for a really long time.”

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