PMOT Award boosts Open Home Foundation mahi

Published: February 21, 2022

Open Home Foundation social worker, Gail Hessey, was so excited when she received news that her nominee was the recipient of a 2021 Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Award that she couldn’t sit still.

Gail Hessey and Celeste Bezuidenhout
Gail Hessey (left) and Celeste Bezuidenhout, Practice Manager at the Open Home Foundation, Manawatū.

Gail Hessey has been a social worker with the Open Home Foundation for close to four years.  The Foundation provides services for whānau referred by Oranga Tamariki and is a sponsor of the Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards.

Exciting news

When she received news that her nominee was the recipient of a 2021 Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Award, Gail was so excited that she couldn’t sit still.

“It just blew me away. I couldn’t concentrate on work for the rest of the day,” says Gail.

“I was hooting around the office and said to my senior Practitioner, I can’t do any more work today, my brain won’t go there. I’m still ecstatic about it!”

Complimenting the agency’s mahi

The Open Home Foundation supports the whānau that this young person lives with so that all her needs are met.

Gail believes the award compliments everything that the Open Home Foundation has done, and continues to do, to support the young person and her whānau.

They help her to succeed in education and whatever else she chooses to be a part of by providing financial support and someone to talk to.  

Nominating was a team effort

Gail nominated the young person for the ‘Te Ihumanea – Academic Go-Getter’ category and obtained references from her schoolteacher and bible camp leader.

When she had everything compiled, Gail’s Practice Manager went over it so that they were both happy with the nomination before submitting it.

Gail prayed that whatever the outcome was going to be, the nominee would see how far she had come on her journey.

“When I showed her the nomination I’d written and what had been said by her teacher and the bible camp leader she became quite excited about the whole thing,” says Gail.

Morale boosting

Gail says receiving the award is a very valuable and significant event for a young person to experience.

“It’s amazing what it does for a young person’s esteem and morale, helping them to reflect back and see how far they’ve come,” she says.

It also impacted Gail, causing great excitement that someone she had nominated was getting recognition for all their hard work.

“You feel that everything you do and for the young person is really worth the hard work.”

A special celebration

Gail arranged for the award to be announced at the recipient’s end of year school prize-giving. 

There is also an afternoon tea planned for the recipient and her whānau during which the Deputy Mayor is going to present the trophy, framed certificate and pounamu that were part of the prize pack. 

“We want this to be a special time for our young person,” says Gail.