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The Community Leader Award nominations

What is a Vincentian life? Focus on the faith, then serve others in need

Dedicated: Annette Baker (second from left) with other parishioners at St Joseph’s, Nambour.

ANNETTE Baker has a simple motto – try and do something for someone every day.

It’s a motto that’s served her through 19 years with the St Vincent de Paul Society, where she serves as Queensland vice-president.

It also took her to win 2017 Community Leader of the Year at The Community Leader Awards.

The Vincentian life is a constant but rewarding call.

Last week, Mrs Baker was driving around the Sunshine Coast, doing her best to help out with the bushfires that engulfed much of the state.

She was also on the phone to Stanthorpe, checking in with people there.

“Everybody is just struggling so much,” she said.

Helping a state in need

She said the Society launched another appeal to cover fire, drought and flood, covered in detail on page 9 of The Catholic Leader this week.

But whatever Mother Nature threw at us, the Vincentian spirit remained.

“Our first focus (as Vincentians) is on our faith, on our spirituality, and then we put that relationship with God into action by serving those who are needing our services,” Mrs Baker said.

She said it was great to see the 125-year legacy of Vinnies continue.

“It’s a really big milestone,” she said.

“It’s so good that the people who started it have passed on. 

“It’s a whole thing, you just have to keep reinventing yourself. 

“As people age, they don’t do the work anymore. 

“You’ve got to keep looking for other people to come in. 

“Your membership is changing all the time. 

“We have so many young people who volunteer for the society. 

“They do amazing stuff, it’s just about keeping us all together and keeping focus on the right things.”

In her job, Mrs Baker cares for her fellow Vincentians too.

“Our Vincentians just work so hard,” she said.

“They are facing all of this stuff and they’re trying to remain strong and keep the stiff upper lip so that they’re able help the people in need in their community but from my perspective it’s important that I and others look after them. 

“They have to be cared for as well. 

“Sometimes it’s tough, you can burn out if you don’t look after yourself and so I really like to phone people, go and visit.”

Community Leader of the Year

Winning a Community Leader Award was never something Mrs Baker expected.

“I didn’t know a thing about it until somebody from The Leader rang me up and told me that I had been nominated and would I be available to come on the award evening,” she said.

“I was just blown away. 

“I eventually found out who it was that nominated me and you were allowed to take four people… I made sure he was one of the people who came with me. 

“It was just the loveliest night.”

She said even though she did a lot of work, she never catalogued it.

It wasn’t important to her to keep track of good deeds, the important thing was “I’m doing the work”. 

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