Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Helen Patsikatheodorou was the recipient of the 2018 Robert Kumar Community Award for her outstanding contribution to the Hume Community, by Banksia Gardens Community Services at their AGM last week.Her passion for women’s health, support for older people, services for young people, education and multiculturalism, together with her warm exuberance and cheeky humour are usually the first things that come to mind, but Helen’s contributions to Hume go way beyond these.She was first elected to Hume City Council in 2008, serving as mayor in 2011, and again in 2016, before deciding to step down and focus on her health and her family.Mrs Patsikatheodorou is still referred to as the City of Hume’s ‘Pink Mayor’. Now retired from Council after eight years of service, Helen earned her nickname during her second term as Mayor in 2016. After being diagnosed with breast cancer herself, Helen made a point of wearing something pink every day to help remind all women to have regular breast screening.“I am so very proud of my dear friend and colleague Helen for being recognised for all her hard and dedicated community work in Hume,” says Federal Member for Calwell, Maria Vamvakinou MP of the award.“Not only does Helen do a spectacular job in leading my office, and mentoring my team, but it’s the care, compassion, empathy and understanding she has of the Calwell community that makes this award especially deserved,” Ms Vamvakinou added.“I am really lost for words,” Mrs Patsikatheodorou said. “I didn’t expect the Award and I don’t expect reading about my achievements or the things that I do. They just have to be done. I am normally the one praising the amazing people in our community and in particular our young people.“I live in a community of high needs, but I wouldn’t live anywhere else.“I live with that raw emotion daily, but I also see the continual fight by all our residents to do better, be better.“If I can be part of that story and provide the encouragement, hold a hand, say a kind word or just acknowledge the effort, the achievement or the right to be heard then I have served my community.“I am very humbled by this award.”During her second term as Mayor, Helen was one of 12 mayors appointed to a panel that directly advised the Victorian Minister for Local Government. After deciding not to run for re-election, Helen returned to her previous job with Federal Member for Calwell, Maria Vamvakinou, where she is able to continue her commitment to the local community, and put her advocacy skills to good use helping constituents and local groups. Helen’s professional training is in early childhood education, with a particular focus on children with intellectual disabilities. She worked in a number of special development school and child care settings for more than 20 years, including establishing and directing the Broadmeadows Multicultural Early Learning Centre on the Ford Factory site in 1988.Helen’s voluntary and community work is extensive. She was the founding member of the Neurofibromatosis Association of Victoria, and ran this support and awareness organisation for 15 years. She has been one of the driving forces behind the Greek Community of Broadmeadows and Districts, together with her late husband, John. She helped establish the Craigieburn Residents’ Association, and is currently a Board member at Dallas Neighbourhood House and Meadow Heights Learning Centre. She is a strong and active supporter of the Hume Interfaith Network.Helen is still invited to attend and address a huge range of community events in Hume, despite no longer being an elected councillor. Her passion for her community is as strong as ever. It was an enormous shock to all of us when Helen’s beloved husband, John, suddenly passed away very recently. John was also a passionate and active community member, having served on committees and boards of a long list of local organisations and groups. Together, they were indeed a ‘dynamic duo’. Helen is the proud mother of three sons, Dimitri, Stratos and Nikolas. Helen personifies passion and compassion. She is a tenacious fighter for ordinary people’s rights, and for holding both elected and professional officials to account in serving the needs of the community. Helen has said that she hopes her work encourages other women to also become future leaders.Most of all, Helen is a lover and nurturer of life, her warmth and humour impossible to resist.