An award for Masha

May 15, 2015 by Ayal Tusia
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Jewish Care volunteer Masha Zeleznikow has won an award The 2015 Victorian Minister for Health Volunteer Awards…a part of National Volunteer Week.

The honour  was awarded in the  Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer: Supporting Diversity category.

Jill Hennessy and Masha Zeleznikow

Jill Hennessy and Masha Zeleznikow

It was presented by Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy who thanked Masha among other Victorian volunteers dedicated to supporting the health and wellbeing of so many people.

Masha Zeleznikow has dedicated her life to volunteering and advocacy, supporting the disadvantaged and isolated Russian Jewish community members through various Jewish Care Victoria programs for more than 40 years.

Following the influx of Russian Jewish immigrants arriving in Melbourne in the 1970s, Masha met the newcomers at the airport, helped them find employment and housing, supported them in navigating the health system and assisted in finding schooling for their children.

Depression and isolation were often experienced by new migrants.  In response to this, Masha established the community focused Tuesday Club in 1978 offering monthly gatherings for Russian and other European migrants, including many Holocaust survivors. Participants enjoyed great food, guest speakers, music and socialising, all with the aim of empowering them to settle in Australia.

Today, 37 years later, the Tuesday Club still operates as part of Jewish Care’s Healthy Ageing Program, and serves as a testament to Masha’s dedication and commitment to people she cares for.
“Masha has shown great tenacity, perseverance, commitment, dedication, compassion and tolerance,” said Mary Scott, General Manager People and Culture, Jewish Care.  “She demonstrates a deep understanding of the culturally diverse needs of Russian-speaking community members and advocates on their behalf in the broader Jewish community and external service system.”

Later that evening, Masha Zeleznikow was also awarded the Leo and Mina Fink Award at Jewish Care’s 2015 Annual Appeal dinner.

“Receiving the awards made me feel wonderful,” said Masha.

“It’s not because you volunteer to be appreciated; throughout my life I volunteered simply because it was the right thing to do in my family. I still remember our war years in Kazakhstan —my mother made huge pots of soup which I took to starving Yeshivah boys. And now, so many years down the track, I still love to help others.”

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