Founder and chief executive of not-for-profit Recreation Sports and Aquatics Club (RSAC), Jenny Bombardieri, is making a huge difference in the lives of those with disabilities.
WHEN Jenny Bombardier started her asthma-suffering son on swimming lessons over 30 years ago, little did she know that her plan would not only help him but hundreds and hundreds of other children over the next three decades.
Last year's Woman of the West (community) winner explains: "I was a swimming coach and did further study which gave me skills for training those with disabilities.
"Before I knew it, the Department of Sport and Recreation was giving me work but once their lessons were complete, many of the participants wanted to keep meeting up so we established a swimming group at Roseland every Friday and it's still going.
"I think we had 40 the first week and within 12 months, 100 every week; the demand was so strong that we established the Recreation, Sports and Aquatics Club (RSAC), a not-for-profit group that provides sport, recreation and social activities for people with a disability."
Jenny says she soon had to give up work to concentrate on the fledgling group, raising funds and trying to attract more volunteers (there are four generations of Jenny's own family that volunteer - her mum, children and grandchildren).
"We have been lucky to receive premises and support thanks to clubs like Bankstown Sports; we certainly couldn't do it without them," she said.
Thanks to Jenny's compassion, community spirit and drive, the thriving, grassroots RSAC now offers three swimming programs, cooking, karate, social Saturday, basketball, bocci, cricket, drama, tennis, soccer and indoor soccer groups.
"There have been many incredible outcomes too like the child that wouldn't leave the house who is now into everything," Jenny said.
"Here, they are fully accepted, supported and encouraged; their self esteem goes up and the whole attitude of the family changes - it's a wonderful reward."
With over 500 members, from four to 70 years, Jenny says the group has always been responsive to the wants of the participants.
"We have an Easter holiday camp for families coming up at Bilpin, we're taking a group to Adelaide soon, an adult camp at Port Stephens and trip to New Zealand later in the year; whatever they want, we try to make it happen," she said.