When Zonta Club of Hunter Newcastle chairperson Jill Maclachlan agreed to host an afternoon tea for Denise Heap after she raised $1,000 for the charitable group, she never imagined it would soon turn into a champagne event celebrating a figure almost five times that amount.
In a year that has been particularly difficult for voluntary groups, the Caves Beach resident says it was important to recognise Denise’s efforts, even if it was with bubbles.
“We didn’t imagine she’d get to this amount,” Jill said.
“We promised we’d have an afternoon tea for her after she raised $1,000 and, if she got to $3,000, we’d have champagne, and here we are.”
Denise has raised $4,500 for the agency that empowers women through the sale of her homemade shopping bags.
The hessian bags, measuring 30cm by 34cm, are covered in unique fabric patches.
“There’s a lot of work in them,” Jill said.
“There are some beautiful fabrics with Australian animals on them, and Indigenous prints, and bright colours.
“Everyone in Caves Beach must have one by now.”
Denise has sold more than 120 bags and 135 face masks.
Proceeds from the sale of the bags and masks allows Zonta to maintain its Newcastle scholarships program in Midwifery at TAFE.
“These are for students who are doing it tough and would benefit from some financial support to assist with their expenses in textbooks, computer supplies, apparel, and so on,” Jill said.
“The attractive masks sold as soon as each one was completed and that has allowed us to keep up our commitments of community support.
“She’s done this independently too. Denise attends our events and has been supportive of our work for years.
“She just wants to put back into the community.
“We are deeply grateful to Denise for her generosity. What an incredible effort from one person.”
Zonta International is a global organisation of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.
The word ‘Zonta’ is a Lakota Sioux Indian word meaning ‘honest and trustworthy’. The group were formed in New York in 1919 and has over 30,000 members in 67 countries.
Jill Maclachlan, Helen Blackbourn and Marcia Dane formed the Newcastle group in 2013.