Renee McCarthy remains humble and likes to go about her own business despite being a key player in the running of the Enabling Women Leadership Program in Wangaratta.
“I still like to stay involved in my other activities and do my own thing despite my new found success,” she said.
When Renee was younger she says she used to be a quiet, shy soul, something you wouldn’t believe now.
“This program opened my eyes, don’t let disability stop you from what you want to do, you’ll find a way,” she said.
As a kid although suffering many medical misfortunes she did not know she was disabled.
“I didn’t know I had a disability but I knew I was different.” Renee said.
Within just a couple of years Renee went from being a shy, nervous participant, to mentoring other women to becoming a co- facilitator of the Enabling Women Leadership Program.
In a major achievement she worked alongside Jane Oldfield who is the Partnership and Leadership Officer at Women with Disability Victoria.
Renee took on this role after it was suggested to her by a few people that she should sign up, as they believed it seemed like a role that suited her perfectly.
“People were hinting for me to sign up because it would be a good job for me, I’m glad I did,” she said.
Taking a leap of faith, Renee found a way to juggle her busy schedule of volunteering with the local oral history group and table tennis coaching to include the co-facilitator role of the Enabling Women Leadership Program.
Once she got involved, she knew she’d made the right decision.
“Everyone gets what they want out of the experience. I’ve made new friends out of shared experience from not just fellow participants but mentors and vice versa,” Renee said.
“I ended up thinking why not try this, why not take on this challenge and help other women.”
The program offers women with a disability, the chance to discover their strengths, find their voice and challenge themselves within their home communities.
After these programs the women are able to go away with information about their rights, leadership skills, connections with other women and new skills and confidence.
Since joining as a participant herself in 2015, Renee said the program had changed according to the needs of each of the participants and everyone is accepted.
“I started here in 2015 and now I have come full circle” Renee said.
“I realised in the program I can do this on my own and now I am a home owner.”
Although it’s been a challenge being a mentor last year and progressing to co-facilitator this year, Renee said it had been an enriching experience.
Renee said to watch other women with disabilities reach out and seek the assistance of the Enabling Women Leadership Program had been really great to see and reminded her of herself.
“The experience was a big step but it was great, it has been a lovely journey,” she said.
“See where life takes us.”
On August 12, Renee took part in the graduation ceremony of the Enabling Women Leadership Program held at the Cobram Civic centre.
The ceremony presented 10 graduates who came from all over the shire including Yarrawonga, Nathalia, Numurkah and Cobram with the assistance of Community AccessAbility Transport.
Since the completion of the program, Renee has returned to the things she loves, volunteering, the oral history group and of course table tennis.
She scoffed at suggestions her new-found success might see her take off to the big city.
“This community is important to me, I’m a country bumpkin” she said.