Werribee CEO Mark Penaluna has been recognised for his outstanding work in the community as the recipient of 2018 John Nicol Community Service Award.
Mr Penaluna was presented with the award, named in honour of late Werribee Football Club president and tireless community advocate John Nicol, at the Committee for Wyndham Annual Gala Dinner Event at The Refectory Werribee Park on Wednesday night.
The award holds special significance for Mr Penaluna given his close friendship with Mr Nicol, with whom he worked closely to help deliver the $11.75 million Avalon Airport Oval redevelopment before the latter’s untimely passing in 2015.
“I’m very surprised and humbled by it,” Mr Penaluna said of the award.
“I first met John when interviewing for my role in September 2003. Rather than sponsorship, income, or even football, we spoke about community and family.
“It all seemed to resonate with John, as he and wife Pauline were very community-minded themselves.”
“I’ve now lived half my life in Wyndham and half in Port Phillip, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being here. It’s much like the Port Melbourne I grew up in.
“I firmly believe that we as members of the community should all share the responsibility of leaving a better place for our kids than the one we inherited.”
Through his role as Werribee CEO since 2003, Mr Penaluna has put in countless hours of work to establish the club as a leader in delivering and facilitating community programs across the Wyndham region.
In addition to his work with Mr Nicol to deliver the Avalon Airport Oval redevelopment – a project 10 years in the making – he has seen Werribee become the only VFL club to establish dedicated community development and diversity/inclusion roles.
He has also played a key role in securing funding for the Wyndham Huddle program and developed a partnership with the Wyndham Community & Education Centre that provides access to club facilities for the delivery of education and training programs.
Outside his role as CEO, he has served on the Wyndham City Council Sport & Recreatian Portfolio Committee, the Lalor Sporting Heroes panel, and the Werribee Bingo board and was actively involved in the City of Wyndham’s former graffiti removal and area clean-up program.
The John Nicol Community Service Award was established by the Committee for Wyndham in 2016 to recognise community members who have substantially contributed to the improvement of the quality of life of people in Wyndham beyond that expected in their usual occupation.
The award has had a strong Werribee Football Club theme across its first three years, with Tino Ballan (dealer principal of major sponsor Ballan Holden) and Peter Ross (Wyndham Rotarian and football club member) recognised in the first two editions.
Werribee president Martin Carter, who took on the role following Mr Nicol’s passing in 2015, praised Mr Penaluna as a worthy recipient of the award.
“Mark continues the legacy of the late, great John Nicol, a man of respect, loyalty, and dignity who placed his community at the forefront of his thinking for countless years,” Mr Carter said.
“This is an award that reflects Mark's enormous contribution to our community.”
The Werribee Football Club offers its heartiest congratulations to Mark Penaluna on a thoroughly well-deserved honour.