In February, The Salvation Army Westcare hosted its annual Hugh Williamson Foundation Scholarship presentations.
The morning saw 13 young people and 12 staff receive funding to support their academic and educational pursuits.
Located in Sunshine, Westcare provides support to vulnerable young people across Melbourne’s West through services including Foster Care, Residential Care and Transitional Services.
The Foundation and Westcare’s partnership began in 2002 and has since provided financial support to enhance the educational opportunities for young people and staff alike in the Westcare network.
The presentation was attended by The Salvation Army representatives; the Divisional Commander of Melbourne Central Division, Major Mike Coleman, Women’s Ministries Director, Major Annette Coleman and coordinator for planning and administration at Catherine Booth College, Major Jim Weymouth.
Westcare General Manager, Peter Mulholland, reflected on the strong educational focus the Foundation brings to the greater Westcare community.
“Hugh Williamson Foundation is important to Westcare because they assist in creating educational pathways for young people, carers and staff.”
“The Foundation’s 14 year partnership with us has provided opportunity for educational guidance for over 200 people during that period.”
Major Jim Weymouth also joined the Hugh Williamson Foundation presentations.
As Coordinator for Planning and Administration at Catherine Booth College, he emphasized how important it is for learning to be deeply ingrained Salvation Army culture.
“Education is important because the work were involved in is important.”
Jim’s relationship with the Hugh Williamson Foundation at Westcare began when he first attended a presentation 12 years ago.
He highlighted that the scholarships awarded to members of staff at Westcare are crucial in assisting the young people in The Salvation Army’s care.
“At Westcare, looking at the needs of vulnerable people, each one of us needs to be the best we can be so that the people we work with can reach their full potential.”
For Jim, these scholarships awarded through the Foundation are valuable as “everyone is enriched in the learning and development process.”
Westcare’s Leadership Development & Practice Consultant, Stella Omerogullari, was one of this year’s scholarship recipients.
In her 4th year of her Masters in Youth Services Management, The Hugh Williamson Foundation’s generous support will allow her to complete her final year of the degree.
Stella values the way the Foundation encourages Westcare to function as a ‘learning organisation.’
“I feel honoured and supported by the Hugh Williamson Foundation and Westcare. They see my learning as important… I feel valued.”
Stella was nominated by Westcare’s General Manager for the scholarship, in recognising that her program area would have further opportunity for growth with her continued studies.
“My growth and development will support the growth of the organisation.”
Westcare saw a need to create a Student Unit that would allow people undertaking courses in Social Work, Youth Work and Community Welfare the opportunity to have practical experience in the field.
In 2009, Stella implemented and ran the Student Unit program at Westcare. It has since running for 6 years.
She said that both the Student Unit and the Hugh Williamson Scholarships “fit within our organizational culture, which is focuses on caring and supporting the most marginalized children and young people.”
“Our organizational culture also supports our staff and a continuous journey for growth and learning.”
For scholarship recipients like Stella, Jim reinforced the need to value the work of staff.
“We have to value our own people and invest in them.”
In her final year of her Master’s, Stella is now working on her minor thesis.
It will focus on Westcare’s Student Unit and provide an “opportunity to consolidate knowledge on our journey to develop the Student Unit.”
Receiving funding has given Stella the “motivation and inspiration” to continue her studies.
“Education opens different opportunities.”