In 2020, LG Electronics Australia recognised and rewarded Lana Borg, a local hero of Penrith, NSW. For the past eight years Lana has selflessly prepared meals and arranged other essential services for her community’s less fortunate and most vulnerable, all while balancing a full-time job, six children, six grandchildren and five dogs!
Back in 2013 when bushfires ravaged through the tight-knit Greater Blue Mountains area, which led to the New South Wales government declaring a state of emergency, Lana was determined to help her community get through this disaster. At the beginning, Lana and her husband Roger prepared meals for the firefighters battling the bushfires. The pair, along with some family and friends, delivered 350 meals a day over a 12-day period, whilst cooking BBQ breakfasts and dinners for volunteers.
Fast forward to 2020, and Lana is still making her community proud through Mama Lana’s Community Foundation (MLCF). A home-grown (literally!) organisation she started by following the 2013 bushfires. MLCF has since transformed into a community-driven initiative that is run solely through volunteers, and 100 per cent of all donations directly supporting the foundation’s cause. And during the economic recession that came alongside the global pandemic, Lana and MLCF have been helping those in the community stay afloat. From supporting others through rehabilitation programs and counselling to helping others pay bills on time, Lana’s organisation truly shows the power of a helping hand.
We spoke to Lana to learn more about her efforts – how she got started, her greatest challenges and what is in store for her community involvement:
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
LB: I’ve always wanted to ensure that everyone I meet and have had the privilege of serving knows that there are people out there who truly care. So, when the 2013 Blue Mountains bushfires started, I just wanted to help in any way I could and thought I would use my love for cooking to offer hot, home cooked meals for the firefighters and SES. What started out as my partner and I wanting to help out in the moment, has now transformed into a community all working together to ensure that everyone is cared for.
LG: How did you come up with the concept?
LB: After nearly two weeks of cooking for the firefighters, we were asked to provide a banquet Christmas Eve dinner from a car park in Penrith for the homeless and underprivileged. Seeing how many people we served that night reflected how much a service like this was needed on a regular basis. With this in mind, establishing the Mama Lana’s Community Foundation (MLCF) was a natural progression to continue our efforts to support the Penrith community.
We are proud that today, MLCF along with a dedicated group of volunteers, is a fully not-for-profit organisation that works to help the homeless and underprivileged advance their wellbeing and prospects for future independence. Acting on our foundation’s mission of delivering kindness with no strings attached, we deliver hot meals six nights a week, food and toiletry packs, as well as clothing and blankets to ensure those less privileged keep warm during cold Penrith nights.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
LB: In the beginning it was definitely hard, running it all from our own house then after depleting our own savings, we quickly learned that we would need financial support to meet the growing needs of those we were assisting in the community. Now that we have our rental premises, it’s definitely made it easier but we still need to keep up with the continuing growth as well as the weekly financial obligations that come hand in hand with rental premises. To ensure that we are able to help as many as possible, we have been working in collaboration with other local charities and support services to ensure we can respond to crisis calls as soon as possible. Each night we are seeing new faces, which reinforces to us that the need for our service is necessary.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
LB: We have been able to help families keep their homes by providing meals and food hampers, so they can afford to pay their bills. We have also helped some of our patrons through detox and rehabilitation programs, putting them on the path of a better future. Seeing people who were on the verge of taking their own lives and supporting them through our free counselling service has been another huge accomplishment. And through it all, we have also ensured our older community members feel useful and needed by volunteering with our organisation.
LG: What’s next for you and your initiative?
LB: Our ultimate goal is to own our own premises for the foundation to minimise expenses associated with rental premises, then we can continue to expand on our meal and support services that we currently provide. We are also aiming to acquire a grant to sustain a full-time wage. This will help us to focus and commit our time 100% to our services so that we are able to help and support more of our most vulnerable members of the community.
We would truly like to thank Lana for her contributions to supporting Penrith’s local community. We wish the organisation our best, as they continue to change lives and create a brighter future. For more information on Mama Lana’s Community Foundation, visit the organisation’s website here, and Facebook page here.
If you know someone like Lana making a difference through their time, actions, talents and/or dedication to others, you can nominate them to be named an LG Local Legend by visiting: lglifesgood.com.au/nominate-a-local-legend.
We are looking forward to celebrating their achievements with you soon!