Vaucluse honours Laya

State Minister and local member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton presents Laya Slavin with Vaucluse Woman Of The Year Award. Photo: Noel Kessel

APPROPRIATELY, when Our Big Kitchen (OBK) co-founder Laya Slavin was awarded the honour of being the 2018 Vaucluse [electorate] Local Woman of the Year by Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton on Monday night, she was surrounded by volunteers, friends and plenty of fresh food being cooked for the needy.

Upton personally presented Slavin with the award at OBK, revealing her decision to recommend her as the recipient in a letter to Premier Gladys Berejiklian was because “Laya deserves recognition for her commitment to bringing positive change in the community through OBK.

“In terms of helping the community, Laya is regularly ‘everywhere’ – I see her so often buzzing around at community events – and she brings her special warmth into everything she does.”

Upton said she had seen first-hand how OBK “encourages people from diverse backgrounds, including underprivileged people, and school groups, to get together to give freely to others and learn new skills”.

“The food cooked is donated to so many organisations and people in need.

“Laya is also an amazing supporter of the Gift of Life Australia – a program that inspires people to become potential blood stem cell donors to save the lives of blood cancer patients.”

Slavin said she felt very “honoured and humbled” but also feels a little unworthy because the award is “for simply doing something that I love every day”.

She quipped that she only agreed to accept the award “if it could be done here [at OBK] and we could do a big baking session afterwards and donate everything to community organisations”.

“The message of this kitchen is when two people meet here, something good must result for a third.”

Slavin dedicated the award to the OBK team, its army of volunteers, and her mother-in-law, Miriam Slavin – “an incredible woman” whose strength and values inspired her son, Rabbi Slavin, and her, to have the courage to establish OBK in 2005.