The 2020 Australia Day citizen of the year award will go to one of six nominees this year.
Making the finalist list is community kitchen founder Lynne Graham, RSL Club director Phillip McIntosh, community band and comedy club regular Christopher Kanck, sporting, radio and community stalwart Ian Begg, softball star Jennifer Currie and DIY home builder John Mason.
Speaking with The Daily Advertiser, Lynne Graham, Ian Begg and John Mason all described the nomination as "humbling", each taking pains to emphasise the work of other volunteers in helping them achieve their personal goals.
For Ms Graham, the community kitchen and care-van idea came about two years ago, out of a need to use her retirement to bless the city.
With the care-van running three nights, and the kitchen open one, Ms Graham estimates that the 70-member volunteer team would feed up to 150 people each week.
"I'm not a person who seeks recognition. [If the award came to me], I'd accept it on behalf of the amazing people who stand behind me and support me. Without the dedicated volunteers, this would be nothing," Ms Graham said.
John Mason described hearing of his nomination as "a bit of a shock", and admitted he felt the work he had done in 'The Rock Project' was "really not too special". In 2017, as a member of the South Wagga Rotary Club, Mr Mason helped a family with two disabled children build a second bedroom onto their house.
To complete the endeavour, Mr Mason rallied a team of 38 volunteers from business houses and trades centres around the region.
"It was a great thing for me, I got a great feeling from doing it. As a farmer, DIY is all part of your life, I've loved it since I was in my 20's," Mr Mason said.
"It would be a great honour [to win] but there are so many in the community who do great things that are never seen or heard. We don't do it to be honoured, we just do it to get it done."
A self-professed "professional talker", Ian Begg said the nomination had left him speechless.
"I do a lot of things behind the scenes and I've been lucky enough to be able to co-ordinate powerful people," he said.
His role in facilitating fundraisers for a variety of local and national charities, he said, is a reflection of the city's generosity. Additionally, in response to the bushfires, Mr Begg has also enrolled to become a volunteer Red Cross crisis manager
"I'm so proud of the people of Wagga and my kids who have allowed me to be a part of a wonderful community. It doesn't matter where you're from or who you are, the community will rally for your needs," Mr Begg said.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony to take place on January 24, from 7pm at the civic theatre.
Australia Day category award finalists
Alongside the nominees for citizen of the year are also an array of Wagga residents who will be honoured for their commitment to various community, sporting and environmental ventures.
This year sees three nominees for a place on the walk of honour. Michael Henderson has been recognised for keeping Lake Albert's boat club afloat. John Mason is also a finalist for his role in 'The Rock Project'.
Ian Begg makes the list after his year's of voluntary contribution to community groups and fundraisers.
Mr Begg is also a finalist in the Ted Ryder Sports Memorial award following his enormous contribution he has made in across codes and ages in football and cricket. Stalwart of the volleyball and football scenes, Geoffrey Jacobson joins him.
ErinEarth educator Ben Holt has been recognised as a finalist for environmental citizen of the year. Mr Holt said the nomination buoys his courage to continue working in the climate science and sustainability field.
"The recognition is lovely, it gives me confidence, energy and motivation to continue. Whether I get the award or not wouldn't make much of a difference really, the nomination is enough to know the community things the work I do is valuable," Mr Holt told The Daily Advertiser.
This year's young citizen of the year honours The Riverina Anglican College year 12 student Meghan Graham, who has shown commitment to the Baptist Church community kitchen, Kurrajong Race Day, Daffodil Day and the annual RESPECT Day.
ABOUT THE NOMINEES
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Two years ago, Lynne established the Community Kitchen which operates out of the Baptist Church in Tarcutta Street.
This kitchen provides a hot meal in a social setting once a week. Lynne realised that many people in outlying suburbs were unable to access this service and decided that the service should be more accessible.
From this grew CareVan Wagga which provides three meals a week in Ashmont, Tolland, South Wagga and Kooringal.
Lynne was able to secure support from local high schools who cook the meals. There is also a large group of volunteers to support this project, but it would not have been a success without Lynne's vision and hard work.
Phillip's long-time dedication to community is evident in his roles as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Commins Hendriks Pty Ltd, a current Director of the Wagga Wagga RSL Club, a member of the Institute of Company Directors, a past President of the Rotary Club of Wollundry and Chair of the Organising Committee of the Wollundry Cycle Challenge, otherwise known as the Gears and Beers festival.
Christopher volunteers with three community organisations in Wagga Wagga - The Demonstration Gardens, Wagga Wagga Community Band and the Wagga Wagga School of Arts Community Theatre, where he builds set productions.
David also preforms regularly as part of the Riverina Comedy Club and Wagga Wagga Community Band.
In these roles he generously assist residents in their cultural pursuits and helps provide quality entertainment for Wagga Wagga residents.
Ian Has tirelessly given to many organisations over the years volunteering in support of Kurrajong Waratah's Race day, SIDS for Kids, Clean Up Australia Day, Clean Up Wagga Wagga, Respect Week, Baptist Church Community Kitchen, and Cancer Council annual activities including, Relay for Life, Daffodil Day, Pink Ribbon Day, Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, Shave for a Cure and Children's Medical Research.
Ian also gives back to the community through his work at local community radio station 2AAA.
Jennifer has been described as a silent volunteer, dedicating her time in varied roles at the Smith Family, VIEW CLUB, supporting refugee families in their transition process, volunteering at St Aidan's Church Wagga Wagga, Cancer Councils Daffodil Day and the Men's Rugby Choir.
Jennifer has been heavily involved with the Wagga Wagga softball scene where she has been given the privilege of life-time member of the Wagga Wagga Softball Association.
John is an active member of the Wagga Wagga Men's Shed and was a key driver in rebuilding the Men's Shed after it was destroyed by an arson attack, some years ago.
John's association with the men's shed enables him to spend time teaching and practising wood-work.
The relationships he has built at the Men's Shed have vastly contributed to the health and wellbeing of many of the members that pass through the doors.
TED RYDER SPORTS MEMORIAL
Geoffrey is a well-known face in the Wagga Wagga volleyball scene and has been instrumental in the growth of the sport in Wagga Wagga. Contributing in various committee roles for 25 years, including President, Secretary, and Referees Coordinator.
Geoffrey is also the foundation treasurer for Wagga Brothers Rugby League Club and Secretary for Wagga Swans Junior Australian Football Club.
Ian has volunteered his time with many school sporting initiatives including the Carrol Cup (AFL), Hardy Shield (NRL), Creed Shield Open Boys Soccer, Shippard Shield Open Girls Soccer, Bill Turner soccer Over 15 boy/girls soccer and the Byrnes Shield (Cricket).
He also supports youth sporting clubs though his role as coach and Club Referee as a level 4 NSW football referee, with Football Wagga Wagga Association, and provides coaching to the North Wagga AFL Club.
ENVIRONMENTAL CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Ben is a passionate educator that wants to share how the community can make simple changes to address and adapt to climate change in our local area.
Ben practises what he preaches by implementing sustainable practices at work to save waste and water and at home, regularly cycling to work from Lake Albert to Turvey Park.
Ben has been an advocate and strong supporter of likeminded events and groups in our area, attending the March 2019 Climate Change rally, where he assisted as a marshall, and has worked closely with the organisers of the Global Climate Strike March in September 2019, which he also participated in.
Ben regularly attends the informal environmental networking get-togethers held in Wagga Wagga.
YOUNG CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Meghan is an active member of the Wagga Wagga community and is currently undergoing her studies at The Riverina Anglican College.
Meghan regularly volunteers her time at the Baptist Church community kitchen, Kurrajong race day, daffodil day and has been involved in RESPECT day.
WALK OF HONOUR
Michael has been nominated in recognition of his advocacy to the upkeep of Wagga Wagga's Lake Albert and for his commitment to the ongoing future of the Wagga Wagga Boat Club.
Ian is an outstanding ambassador for the Wagga Wagga community. Ian gives tirelessly of his time as a volunteer across numerous community activities, including Kurrajong race day, annual fundraisers run by the Cancer Council and sporting events and clubs.
John is an active member of South Wagga Rotary Club and Wagga Wagga Men's Shed.
He tirelessly volunteers his time to assist people in need - John's nominator fondly recalls 'The Rock Project' that John recently managed, where through his connections with South Wagga Rotary, he came across an NDIS request to rebuild a bedroom of a family residence at The Rock.
This project quickly turned into the rebuild of half of the house and John took on the role of co-ordinating and seeing the project to completion.