Three local heroes of the Newcastle community have been recognised with a $10,000 grant each to continue their inspiring work.
Steve Poulton from Soul Cafe Newcastle, Carly Reasbeck from Got Your Back Sista and Phillippa Woolf of NSW Police Legacy were this month named the winners in the second annual Westfield Local Heroes program which celebrates individuals and their organisations whose work promotes social well-being, connects and enriches their communities.
Mr Poulton, who runs an addiction recovery program at Soul Cafe, a non-government funded organisation that provides daily meals to the homeless and access to free medical and legal services, said he was "blown away" with the win.
The former rugby league star who won grand finals with Wests Newcastle in the 1980s has battled addiction in the past.
For the last 14 years Mr Poulton has dedicated his time to volunteering at Soul Cafe to help others with their battles.
In addition to running the Smart Recovery Program, Mr Poulton also collects donated food from restaurants and cooks breakfasts for homeless people.
"I like talking to the different people who come in. Some of these guys have no one else to talk to," he said. "I also like working with the other volunteers."
Earlier this year the Kotara community was called upon to submit nominations for everyday heroes they believe would benefit from the recognition.
Six finalists were shortlisted before being put to public vote. From that, the three 2019 winners were selected and announced on October 1.
Ms Reasbeck is a former Australian martial arts champion but little compares to the pride she feels when helping women regain their confidence after domestic violence.
A self-defence trainer at Got Your Back Sista, Ms Reasbeck teaches women and girls how to protect themselves, which also improves their physical fitness and emotional well-being.
"I am passionate about women's rights and empowering women through my work," she said.
Her lessons support the organisation's goal of helping women to lead socially connected lives free from violence.
Mrs Woolf was a member of the NSW Police Force for 26 years until her retirement in 2010. Her husband is still a police officer. Soon after her retirement, she volunteered for the NSW Police Legacy.
Since then, Mrs Woolf has been working tirelessly across the Hunter region to ensure that everyone receives the care they deserve.
She regularly checks in on people of all ages and provides the charity with updates on their needs.