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Real Life

Celebrating everyday heroes! Meet the winners of the Woman's Day Time To Say Thank You competition

Giving back to their communities.

By Brigid Auchettl
Thanks to Woman's Day these Aussies are giving their heartfelt thanks, and $250 each, to their community champions.
We were overwhelmed with gorgeous entries from across Australia but these special stories really tugged at our heartstrings.
Meet the local heroes you nominated to be celebrated.

Sue has a place to call home thanks to Janet

When Sue Matkovich found herself facing the toughest year of her life, she couldn't be more thankful for the love and support of her dear friend Janet Haensel.
After her relationship broke down earlier this year, Sue, 47, and her two children had to find a new house in a hurry.
Worried she'd be left with nowhere to go, Sue was blown away when Janet, 61, organised accommodation for the family.
"Thanks to her, my children and I are OK," Sue says, wiping away tears.
"It's been an awful time but having Janet help me build furniture, and just listen, has been amazing."
Sue (left) will always be thankful for Janet's help
The good friends, who live in Mansfield, Victoria, met four years ago when maternal health nurse Janet was assigned to Sue after the birth of her son.
"We just hit it off so well,'' says Sue. "She's so giving, and there are not many people like her on earth. I nominated Janet because she deserves to know she's important. I'm so glad to have her in my life.
"I'll never be able to thank her enough for all she's done for us – but this is a start."
Janet says, "I couldn't quite believe Sue wanted to thank me! It's so thoughtful of her and it shows what a kind person she is. I'm so glad I've been able to support her through this time of her life."

Louise nominated her dad Glenn, who came out of retirement to help sick patients smile

Nurse Louise Bolling knows firsthand how tough the past 18 months has been inside hospitals.
But she never imagined the steps her father Glenn Sargent would take to help ease the pressure on the overworked medical staff.
Inspired by his daughter working on the frontline, Glenn, 61, who had recently retired from working in the Mudgee mines, became a wardsperson, supporting frontline staff and caring for COVID-positive patients at one of Sydney's biggest hospitals.
"Dad truly deserves the recognition," says Louise, 37, bursting with pride.
Glenn switched careers to help out in the COVID emergency
"He'd never worked in the healthcare system, but he joined during a pandemic just to help... I couldn't be prouder. My partner and I are both nurses and dad made a comment saying, 'Oh, you're all working too hard!' The next I know he's signed up to be a 'wardie'!"
Louise is thrilled to say "thank you" to her hero.
"He always works extra hours and he makes a big difference to his patients' recovery. He makes them smile through the pain, laugh through the worry, and provides privacy and dignity all the way.
"I'm so thankful for all he does – now I get to shout it to the whole world!"Glenn says, "Wow, it's so nice that Louise would nominate me. The recognition is so humbling."

Decima wanted to thank Dr Jamal Rifi for his one-man mission to protect the community from COVID

Sydney doctor Jamal Rifi should be behind the wheel of his campervan, driving around Australia with his wife Lana by his side.
Instead, his retirement plans remain on hold until he sees his south-western Sydney community protected from COVID-19.
Having given over his front yard for more than a year to establish a testing clinic and now vaccination hub for residents, Dr Rifi has saved hundreds of lives.
It was seeing this single-handed effort that led former nurse and now writer Decima Wraxall, 81, to thank Dr Rifi.
"He has put so much into the community," says Decima. "He's an inspiration, and his achievements are a tribute to our wonderful immigrants."
Dr. Jamal Rifi and wife Lana are joined by son Jihad for a picnic lunch break. (Getty)
Decima saw Dr Rifi on ABC's Australian Story and was reminded of their professional association at the Belmore nursing home where she worked as a registered nurse and he would attend to patients.
She believes his efforts in protecting the community from COVID went "above 
and beyond the call of duty".
"I was very impressed," she says. "I thought that his work was so outstanding that it deserved more recognition.
Dr Rifi says, "It's a privilege and an honour to be nominated."
But, he adds, there is more work to be done as Sydney exits lockdown and the rest of Australia opens up.
"The mission hasn't finished yet."

Perihan is grateful every day for her long-time friend Resvan

At 83, Resvan Sills should be putting her feet up and letting someone else start taking care of her.
But there's simply no stopping the retired community support worker. "Life is too boring when you slow down," says Resvan from her home on Sydney's lower North Shore.
Resvan's nonstop approach to helping others is what prompted her friend for more than 25 years Perihan Bozkurt to nominate her. "She's a real trouper," says Perihan, 47.
"Resvan has helped so many people. She really does go all out for other people. She's a local hero."
Perihan and Resvan have been friends for decades
She felt Resvan deserved thanks not just for her decades of social work and volunteering but her day-to-day support of friends and the community.
"She's always very kind and supportive, and she's not judgemental," says Perihan. "She's the first person I call with a problem."
The pair met in 1995 when they were both working as welfare officers at The Smith Family and hit it off straight away.
With neither of them having much family in Australia, they "adopted" each other and their friendship has continued to grow over the years.
"She always makes me feel welcome and I feel comfortable in her presence" Perihan smiles.
Resvan says, "I'm quite shy and quite private and when I heard that I'd won, I thought, "Perihan, what have you done... it's a wonderful compliment!"

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