Every year we extend the James Ridgway Award to a staff member who has been recognised by their colleagues as displaying “outstanding servant hood, integrity and loyalty” in their work practice and life.
Dr. James Ridgway was one of the last remaining participants in the founding of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia. He was known as a man of leadership who served with a ‘pure heart.’ We honour him every year by recognising others who have also displayed attributes of strong character.
This year, Grace Baulch was recognised for displaying integrity in all her interactions and being a quiet and humble achiever who is loyal to her supporters and work. One nomination stated,
“Grace is a humble, diligent, dedicated worker who gives 100% to what she does. She at first appears quiet, but you soon realise her passion, heart and advocacy for young people is far from quiet. She has a heart of a lion and any young person is well placed to have her as their worker.”
We are delighted to award her with this prestigious award. When speaking with Grace, her passion for working with children and young people shines through. She first joined Concern Australia because she saw it as an opportunity to make a real difference and come alongside young people vulnerable, marginalised and at-risk.
“We have the ability to walk alongside a young person for as long as they would want us to. It is a real privilege to work with them for the long-term and see them mature and make positive decisions for their future,” shares Grace.
Grace has served as a part-time youth worker in our Steps Outreach Service for nearly nine years. When she is not working she enjoys an active lifestyle of running, cycling and spending time with family. Her future goals are to continue to walk alongside young people and children – instilling them with hope for themselves and their future.
“Since being involved, I have become a more grateful person. I came to realise how easily and quickly one can become homeless and learnt very early on not to judge. Everyone has a story explaining how they ended up on the streets, and more often than not they have experienced massive trauma and family breakdown,” Grace reflected.
Grace has helped support hundreds of young people over the years though her homeless outreach on the Steps of Flinders Street Station. However, she particularly focuses on providing intensive support for approximately 10-15 young people each year.
Recently Grace has celebrated the achievements of a young man, aged 19, who she has worked with since he was just 11 years old. He has been able to access stable housing and is currently completing an apprenticeship. As she has walked alongside him journeying into adulthood she has enjoyed celebrating with him in every success.
“I feel like a proud parent whenever I talk about him! The young people I meet and work with are some of the most resilient people I know and it is a privilege to be a part of their lives. The most significant change I have seen is when a young person goes from having no hope to having hope for themselves and their future.”
We are honoured and grateful to have you serve in our team Grace and for the continued servanthood, integrity, and loyalty that you demonstrate.