Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram One of Melbourne’s most significant advocacy and charity organisations, the Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust honours the memory of one of its most dedicated board members, Loula Rodopoulos. Since 1985, the VWBT grants have been helping Victorian Women and girls to thrive and the Sub-Funds program has been designed to honour women who have made a valuable contribution to the lives of women and girls or in memory of special women whose own lives were remarkable in what they achieved. Loula Rodopoulos was one such person. Born in Melbourne in 1944 to parents of Greek heritage (her grandfather came from Ithaca and settled in Cookgradie, WA in 1896 and her grandmother came from the same island, in 1921), Loula grew up loving her heritage and being influenced by it, as she developed the talents and capabilities which she employed for the benefit of individuals and of organisations she worked for. Her work ethic was largely influenced by her parents, Evgenia and Panoyiannis (Peter John) Raftopoulos. Peter John was very deeply engaged in the community, both Greek and Australian; he was actively involved in raising money for various charitable causes and for some ten years after retirement was a volunteer interpreter at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Loula and her brother were delighted when in late 2012 the Ithacan Philanthropic Society announced that, as a lasting memorial to Peter Raftopoulos, the VCE bursaries (aimed at helping support students through university) it had awarded annually since 1988 were henceforth to be named after Peter, a long-term and active member. Almost three decades later, it was Loula’s time to be honoured for her achievement and contribution to the community, with the establishment of the Loula Rodopoulos Sub-Fund, which will make grants tossist women recovering from mental illness or other difficult personal circumstances and also to support and enable programs which encourage young and established female writers. In establishing the sub-fund the VWT acknowledges its good fortune to be among the beneficiaries of Loula Rodopoulos’ skills and qualifications, first when she became a founding trustee and then as convenor, playing a vital role from 1985 to 1990 in setting the fledgling foundation on the path to itself becoming exceptional. Loula’s leadership skills, fine judgement, and experience of the spheres of government, education and community helped put the Trust’s inaugural board – dauntingly tasked with disbursing grants of state money to women’s enterprises – on the road to becoming a model of its kind. Loula Rodopoulos came onboard of the organisation after years of experience in social services and academia. As a social worker with the Victoria Department of Immigration, she was placed as a grant-in-aid worker for Greek-oriented casework at the Ecumenical Migration Centre (EMC), and was instrumental in the organization’s ability to adapt to the new challenges presented, when multiculturalism became Australia’s official’s policy. An avid learner, she had pursued an Arts degree at Monash University, following it with a Diploma of Social Studies at Mellbourne University and after her work at the EMC, she delved into academia. She had been lecturing in social work at Monash and Melbourne universities from 1977 to 1980, while, between 1981 and 1984 she lectured at Victoria College (Toorak campus) in Interpreting and Translating for BA students. In this role she was instrumental in developing an accredited course for interpreters and translators in Victoria. She was also an insightful poet and a loving mother to Maria and Katie, the daughter she had with George Rodopoulos, with whom she often traveled to Greece. The couple managed to acquire a home in Kioni, the place where her family came from. The 2017 Sub-Fund Grant Round will open on 1 June and close on 31 July.