Mary O’Brien- Presentation Associate named Ballina Citizen of the Year
FOR the past 10 years, Mary O’Brien has been opening the doors of her historic Ballina home as a way of raising money for the less fortunate. The 82-year-old was named Ballina Shire’s Citizen of the Year, at the Australia Day celebrations in Lennox Heads.
Mary, who also was a founding volunteer at the Ballina Lighthouse RSL Day Club for elderly people in 2000, was pleased and surprised to receive the award. She regularly opens her doors to host fund-raising barbecues for Sanctuary, which supports African refugees, and the Ballina homeless men’s shelter Sheraton House, along with other charities. Mary was on the organising committee for the 2014 Christmas Day lunch for the homeless.
She said it “breaks my heart to see these people (asylum seekers) on Manus Island not getting the Australian welcome we all brag about.” (extract from Northern Star 27/01/15)
Mary commented later to Sr Anne Shay,
“Much of the things I have been credited with stem from our justice meetings and with the help and support of our group. I can’t think of one thing that I did on my own. And the most rewarding thing would have to be the privilege of welcoming and hosting the family of refugees from Sierra Leone until a house was found for them.”