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Family educator Lane Cove woman of the year

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Marea de Angelis receiving her award for the Lane Cove electorate. Photo: Supplied
Marea de Angelis receiving her award for the Lane Cove electorate. Photo: Supplied

Lifelong resident of Hunters Hill and family educator Marea de Angelis has been named Lane Cove Local Woman of the Year after years of service to her community.

Marea received the award for the Lane Cove electorate at the ICC NSW Premiers Woman of the Year awards held on Thursday 7 March after she was nominated by her local NSW MP, Anthony Roberts.

“I was very much taken aback by the accolade and humbled by the recognition,” Marea told The Catholic Weekly.

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Among numerous roles, Marea is a volunteer with St Vincent de Paul, a volunteer member of the Holy Name of Mary parish grief and support group, and founder of the outreach program “Forget me not” which connects lonely elderly members of the community with young families for support.

Most notably Marea has been a teacher and family educator at Villa Maria Catholic Primary School for more than 15 years, where she attended school in the 70s before later also sending her four children.

“It’s been a huge part of my identity and place in the community,” Marea said.

“At the heart of my role is me doing what I love to do and giving back to the community that aligns with my personal values and principles.

“It’s something the late Fr Kevin Bates SM worked tirelessly to do. His impact on me and the rest of us here in Hunters Hill has been truly immeasurable.”

One of her proudest achievements was coordinating the schools seven-metre-high cross mosaic in 2018 to celebrate 150 years of Catholic education in Hunters Hill, where each family in the school contributed a tile.

“You can’t help but admire it as you walk or drive down Mark St,” Marea said.

Marea believes her faith is key instrument in her continued motivation to serve.

“Considering this is the year of prayer, faith can help us seek the best of our community and help each member,” she said.

“For that idea to flourish, we need to remember that we’re led by God and that our faith is important when leading others.”

Her advice for others wanting to get help in their communities simple: “Get involved. Every contribution, no matter how small, can have a positive impact.

“It certainly helps you grow as a person and at the same time can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.”

Marea’s mentor Elsa Manu, Family Wellbeing and Education offer at Sydney Catholic Schools, said in the 10 years they have known one another Marea has always had an exceptional ability to recognise a need and take action.

“People find it hard to say no to Marea as she has earned the respect of those around her,” Elsa said.

“They also know that whatever they do with her, they’re going to not only enjoy themselves, but be part of something that will have a tangible impact.”

Member for Lane Cove Anthony Roberts, who nominated Marea for the award, told The Catholic Weekly she was a natural choice.

“Maria reflects the self-less and community-minded spirit typical of Hunters Hill … and the wider Lane Cove Electorate, this is giving support to those who need genuine help,” he said.

“We must always value and acknowledge those who work so hard to make the world a better place, just as Marea does.”

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