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Vincentians recognised as community heroes

Two Vincentians are among those recognised for outstanding community service in the 2020 New Plymouth District Council’s Citizens Awards.

Mavis Bridgeman is a member of the St Joseph’s Conference in New Plymouth and Kaddy Smale is a long-time supporter of the Society’s weekly community meals. 

Mavis has been one of the most active members of the St Vincent de Paul Society. 

“She is a regular visitor of those suffering from poverty,” says Gabrielle Carman, President of the St Joseph’s SVdP Conference. “She provides practical support and advice, and is also a regular helper at the weekly community meals that we run.”  

Mavis grew up in foster homes and has cared for more than 250 foster children. She still has one boy spending a week with her each month.

“Mavis knows intimately about challenges that people in poverty face on a daily basis,” says Gabrielle.  “Through years of interfacing with helping agencies, she has become a fount of knowledge about welfare agencies and benefit entitlements. She knows how to get things done.”

Mavis also supports Faith and Light, a faith-based group supporting those with intellectual disabilities, the Taranaki Disabilities Information Trust, the Open Home Foundation Taranaki, and the New Plymouth Pakeke Lions Club.

Kaddy Smale has been a community “good sort” for more than 45 years. She helps out at the local Catholic Parish, has 30 years’ service to libraries in the district, supports migrant women, volunteers for the New Plymouth Guided Walk, supports the Rotary Assistance Reading Programme and is a long-time supporter of the St Vincent de Paul’s weekly community meals.

“For more than five years Kaddy has been a wonderful supporter of our community meals,” says Gabrielle. 

“These meals are held every Tuesday evening and attract 40 -50 diners, with additional meals taken out into the community for people in need who can’t make it to the supper room.

“Kaddy has been part of the cooking team, right from the start.   The food she makes is always special and a favourite with the diners, and she usually stays on to help serve the meal and clean up.  After 40-50 people have eaten, that’s a big job.  She is an absolute star in our eyes.”

Mavis Bridgeman and mayor Neil Holdom.
Mavis Bridgeman and mayor Neil Holdom.