Volunteer of the Year

My Community Legal's highest honour is the award of Volunteer of the Year. Recipients inspire others to advance our mission of volunteering, pro bono publico.
Alexandra Smiroldo

Alexandra Smiroldo

2021 Winner

The thing about enthusiasm is that it inspires others. Alexandra is all about that.

Our 2021 winner very much epitomises from where we have come and to where we are going.

Always alert to and caring for others, Alexandra just gets it done. 

Clients sense and know they are in the best of care around her. 

Alexandra has lead and inspired so many others to be the very best they can be.  A worthy winner among many amazing volunteers, indeed. 

Jade Castle

Jade Castle

2020 Winner

Our 2020 winner has unique qualities that set Jade Castle apart from others.

While by no means seeking glory, Jade’s ethics and industry set her apart as quite a special person.  Jade Castle has certainly inspired others with her intelligence, insights and radiant personality.

One of many notable achievements of Jade is the outreach to Vinnies Community Hub at Southport.  Without Jade Castle, the outreach would have been an unrealised dream.  Jade is one to remember, in being so humble.

Kirsty O'Donnell

Kirsty O'Donnell

2019 Winner

The volunteer principal lawyer of our firm known as My Community Legal, Kirsty O’Donnell has a unique array of powers and responsibilities.

Kirsty holds a Bachelor of Criminology & Criminal Justice (Griffith), and a Juris Doctor (Bond) and Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (Bond). She has worked across a vast array of legal areas including property, leasing, wills and estates, contract law and litigation. She has an interest in legal risk management for small business, and in Body Corporate and Strata law.

Always practically-minded, Kirsty’s history is in small private practice law firms and small business operations.

George Pharmacis

George Pharmacis

2018 Winner

George Pharmacis entered law after an extensive business career and for the past several years has been RCLC’s treasurer. His service to this firm, particularly as association treasurer has been long and distinguished.

George can be seen assisting clients, fellow practitioners and law students almost every Thursday advice evening but gives so much more, behind the scenes. Business and IT systems development are a real strength.  George is perhaps our most proactive volunteer and provides many helpful insights.

It has not been easy for George to run RCLC finances. On one hand, we are expected to budget for extensive regulation and compliance of being a nationally-accredited community legal centre, but on the other we have not been state or federally funded to do so. George Pharmasics’ positive and respectful leadership is an inspiring example of how this community law firm has done so much, with so little.

Daniel Marcantelli

Daniel Marcantelli

2017 Winner

While early award recipients naturally represent the revolution, Daniel Marcantelli represents the evolution and developing nature from RCLC’s start-up to established, medium-tier (yet unfunded) community legal centre.  A great challenge and he is a worthy winner of the 2017 VOTY.

Daniel represents the newer generation of coordinator that are selected from law graduates passing through.  A socially minded and intuitive person, Daniel as coordinator sees both the operational insights but always in context of the caring for client ones.

As RCLC develops and our service delivery expands, greater expectations are made of a coordinator on a small stipend.  Volunteering comes with the job and Daniel seems to relish it.

A young person to be sure but a most capable one – Daniel Marcantelli has a great future ahead of him.  We look forward to reading all about it and are happy to have shared experiences with Daniel at RCLC.

Ian Martin

Ian Martin

2016 Winner

Anyone who knows something of Ian appreciates that he is full of life and enthusiasm for a worthy cause.  RCLC has been very lucky to have Ian’s services and he is a worthy winner of the RCLC 2016 VOTY.

Before Ian, Griffith University was not yet a partner law school.  Thanks to him, GU Law came on board and has partnered with RCLC ever since.

With the evolution of RCLC came the opportunity to engage a coordinator on a small stipend from donations.  Ian was the perfect choice and made great development of our capabilities. Besides being an IT expert and applying this capability across all our operations, Ian is a true believer of community engagement.  Ian seems never happier than when spreading the RCLC word to the vast array of community organisations that provide grass-roots volunteers.

Ian has left his mark on RCLC and we are so much the better for it.

Adeline Yap

Adeline Yap

2015 Winner

Adeline Yap is the RCLC’s founding secretary and worthy winner of the 2015 VOTY.

When it comes to RCLC, Adeline has seen and done it all.  Since signing up to be founding association secretary, Adeline has freely given her time to this endeavour.  In the early days there was much work to get everything in place for RCLC to commence operations.  There were some that sought to change the firm’s identity from a pro bono, community legal centre to a political / ideological soapbox.  Adeline would have none of it.

That was just the start for Adeline as she has kept with the RCLC and seen it grow, year in, year out. Adeline is a RCLC quiet achiever, always there but never out to cover herself in glory. A volunteer’s volunteer.

Adeline has later progressed to association vice president and is a wise guiding influence in RCLC carrying out its mission in ever-challenging conditions.

Nitika Balaram

Nitika Balaram

2014 Winner

Nitika Balaram is our inaugural VOTY recipient and possibly the most remarkable.  In the early days, two suitcases of law firm materials would travel between the Robina Community Legal Centre advice room and our back office room at Lee Lawyers, Southport.

The advice room at the GCCC Robina Community Centre was initially a small room upstairs, comprising only one administration desk plus five advice desks. Due to demand this soon changed to a larger room downstairs at the RCC with six or sometimes on a busy night, seven advice desks plus administration. There was no internet access.  Our IT comprised a second hand laptop and printer donated by Bond University.

Nitika volunteered pro bono as almost the entire back office administration staff for all of 2014.  We were audited three times in 2014: once just before being allowed to operate, three months after commencing operations and in November 2014 RCLC passed the mother of all audits with flying colours to gain national accreditation.