Vision impaired volunteer wins award

27-Jun-2013 11:20 AM

A vision impaired mother-of-three who volunteers her time to help improve the lives of others has been named the June winner of a 3AW and Villa Maria Community Hero award.

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Each month since February, an inspiring individual who has overcome the odds to achieve their dreams, or who makes a positive difference to their community, has been chosen to receive a Community Hero award.  The initiative – run by Villa Maria and top-rating radio station 3AW – aims to ensure unsung heroes receive the recognition they deserve.

Seaford resident Leanne Daniels – who has degenerative eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa – established the Vision Impaired Peoples Aid Foundation (VIPA) four years ago.  The group, run by volunteers, meets twice weekly at a hall in Seaford where around 50 members socialise, pursue their respective interests and hobbies, go on community outings and seek assistance with everyday tasks such as filling in forms and reading letters.

“When I lost the last of my useful sight in my early 30s I had a baby and a seven and a ten-year -old and trying to get help was really difficult because I didn’t fit into any of the ‘boxes’ for specific services or basic things like a bit of home help,” Leanne said.  “VIPA helps connect people to services and most importantly, connects them with each other.  If I can, I want to make life a bit easier for other people.”

In her spare time, Leanne also volunteers with Vision Australia – helping clients who have recently lost their vision – and enjoys knitting, sewing, tandem bike riding and spending time with family and friends. 

Leanne’s previous work as a counsellor shines through in her attitude to life. 

“The seemingly small things VIPA assists with can make the difference between someone being able to still have a worthwhile life, or not.  Maintaining people’s independence is really important.” 

Leanne’s friend Alison James – who she met while completing a Diploma of Welfare studies 13 years ago – nominated her for the award and said she was in awe of her achievements and passion for helping others.

Villa Maria Executive Manager Marketing Rebecca Ryan said Leanne was a fantastic example of the type of community-minded and inspiring people the organisation and 3AW wanted to acknowledge.

In recognition of her achievements, Leanne has been given $1,000 thanks to Mercedes Benz Melbourne, and Alison has received an exclusive $250 Mercedes Benz gift as thanks for his nomination.

Nominating is easy.  To find out how visit:

VIPA is looking for volunteers to assist with transporting members to meetings and outings, making tea and coffee, etc.  If you can help, please call Leanne on 0458 831 313 or email:

Interviews and photograph opportunities are available upon request.

Media enquiries: call Cassie Zlonzak on (03) 9855 7729 or 0406 382 560.

Media contact

Cassie Zlonzak
Communications Adviser

Telephone: 03 9837 6629

Fax: 03 9837 6668

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Villa Maria is a not-for-profit, values-based organisation providing quality services and life enhancing opportunities for older people and children and adults with a disability, their families and carers.

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