Vincentian Annette Baker was awarded the 2017 Community Leader of the Year Award in Brisbane on 15 November at a special awards ceremony hosted by The Catholic Leader publication.
The Sunshine Coast resident has had a long and rich history of involvement with the St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland after first joining the Nambour Conference 17 years ago. She is currently Vice President of the State Council of Queensland and a board member of Vinnies Housing.
On accepting the award, Annette told The Catholic Leader that the most rewarding part of volunteering for the Society was the chance to ‘turn tears into a smile and empowering people to be in control of their own destiny’.
Annette’s dedication to the Society was evident when she told the paper: ‘When I thought about it, I saw [the Award] as recognition of the work done by the St Vincent de Paul Society, which mostly goes unnoticed,’ Mrs Baker said.
Fellow Vincentian John McMahon, who has served on numerous committees with Annette, described her as unflappable and an inspiration to other members in Queensland and beyond.
Annette is a member of the National Mission and Membership team and she recently attended the Society’s National Congress 2017, where she and 175 delegates from across Australia provided invaluable input and feedback into the Society’s role in the community.
Annette previously held the position of Northern Diocesan Central Council president and during her time in that role she led the development of MacKillop Village, which was opened in 2014. The 42-unit facility was built to house people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Village was named after St Mary of the Cross MacKillop who worked tirelessly throughout her life to help those living in poverty.
Her role as a board member of Vinnies Housing means Annette is still very much involved in affordable housing projects and finding suitable land on the Sunshine Coast that can be developed for this purpose. Annette was also instrumental in a project that saw her working alongside the Queensland Government to turn an unused motel into accommodation for people with mental health issues.
Image caption (top of page): St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland member Annette Baker was presented with the 2017 Community Leader of the Year Award in Brisbane recently.