David Manzi was honoured on Australia Day for his service to the community but the Valley Heights resident believes his greatest accomplishments are much closer to home.
“I still think my biggest achievement was bringing up four kids,” said the 73-year-old who was left a widower at 39.
Now the proud grandfather of 11, Mr Manzi never let his sole parenting duties deter his commitment to volunteering.
Through his children’s sporting interests, he played important roles in Springwood Water Polo Club, Springwood Netball Club and the Nepean Referees Association but it was his decision to join Springwood Rotary Club in 1989 that took his volunteering to another level.
A fixture at the club’s barbecue trailer, Mr Manzi has helped raise more than $70,000 by selling steak and sausage sandwiches over 13 years — he estimates he has handed out 40,000 in that time!
Along with council and the Springwood Historical Society he was instrumental in bringing the Springwood History Walk to fruition in 2005, and he was a part of a Rotary project that built houses in Papua New Guinea.
His message to people thinking about volunteering is simple: don’t be put off if you think you don’t have the experience or skills.
“Wipe that from your mind and say ‘you’re not perfect, you’re not going to do the best job ever but you’re going to do a job that’s needed’,” he said. “Don’t hesitate to put your hand up because the results you get back are fantastic — new experiences, new people — the whole thing is really quite something.”
Being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) is an important honour that should be encouraged to recognise people’s positive contributions, he said.
“Crikey, you can be all humble and take all these things in your stride but sometimes you need a bit of recognition and a bit of a pat on the back,” said Mr Manzi.