Dee Why RSL's Executive Manager - Community

Meet Your Executive – Sheila Zakhar-Malone

Introducing, Dee Why RSL’s Executive Manager – Community, Sheila Zakhar-Malone.

Tell us about your journey and how you have come to be the Executive Manager, Community at Dee Why RSL.
I came from a career background in marketing, advertising and sales in the club and real estate industries.

I first came to work at Dee Why RSL in 2015, managing the community support program as well as the Oceangrove Retirement Village sales. I was excited by this dual role not only because of the professional strengths I could bring to the roles, but also because of my longstanding affiliation with the Northern Beaches (I have been a local since the eighties); plus, it would be hard to find a more ideal location
to work in every day…750 metre stroll to the beach and just a short drive home!

How would you describe Dee Why RSL’s Community Support Program?
The Club is very proud of the support program and we firmly believe that it forms the heart and soul of our local community. This year alone we have provided more than $2,000,000 worth of cash and in-kind support to more than 100 local organisations, that in turn support our local residents. There is such a broad scope of support that extends
to mental health, high needs, disabilities, organisations that support vulnerable children, women, the elderly, social and sporting programs, the arts and education, to name just some.

Importantly we are also deeply committed to veteran support on the Northern Beaches, and are the major partner of the Veterans Centre Sydney Northern Beaches, located on level 4 of the Club.

What do you find most rewarding about your role?
I’m extremely fortunate to have such a fulfilling role. Through learning more about these organisations and building relationships with the people behind them and the people they support, I have had the privilege of meeting so many of the salt-of-the-earth people in our community; unsung heroes, as they say. The culture of support and giving on the Northern Beaches is so heartening. So many selfless, kind hardworking people. It’s humbling.

People may not know that you are also involved with our Oceangrove Seniors Living Village. Can you tell us a bit about your role within Oceangrove?
I wear two hats here at the Club. Asside from being the Executive Manager of Community, I am also the Sales Manager at our own Oceangrove Retirement Village located right next door. Oceangrove first opened in 2010 was awarded the Best Seniors’ Living Development in Australia by The Property Council of Australia in 2013, recognising the Village’s record breaking sales and state-of-the-art facilities. Oceangrove is a beautiful oasis of tropical landscaped gardens, stylishly decorated. The most rewarding part of my role is again the relationships I have built with our wonderful residents. It is such a pleasure to introduce our Village to prospective new residents so they can experience first-hand the close-knit supportive community of people that make our Village so special.

Are you involved in any community groups outside of the RSL?
As a local resident for more than 30 years and as a parent of three, I have formed very close ties to so many groups over the years. From parent support networks, play groups, local primary and high schools, sporting groups, personal interest groups, community education, fundraising charities, carer support networks – the list is endless!

Are there any groups that have a significant importance to you?
Every single group we support has a rightful place in our Program however, a few come to mind quickly: Manly Warringah Women’s Refuge, Surf Lifesaving Sydney Northern Beaches, Be Centre, Water Skills for Life, Fisher Road School, Fighting Chance Australia, The Community Pantry, Manly Warringah Gymnastic Club, Dee Why School for Seniors…so many incredible organisations.

What would you say to people thinking about volunteering for a community group.
I say do it! It enriches our lives to help others, and volunteer organisations ALWAYS need more help… and the culture of volunteering is infectious, too!

What do you think makes a strong community?
Communication, caring, connectedness. Talk to your neighbours, your colleagues, the person who serves you every day at your local shop or the person you pass on your morning walk. Community is brought together and connected by reaching out and caring for our fellow humans.

What impact do you think the RSL has on our community?
Above all else I believe we’re a welcoming meeting place, a social hub. When I first moved to Australia from the US as a teen, my Aussie grandma gave me a very valuable cultural introduction to RSL Clubs – in particular her ‘local’ RSL (Avalon) and I soon came to appreciate not only the importance of the history, but also the significant social
connectedness that it created for everyone, all ages. Every week Grandma enjoyed a Resches middy and a chat with her friends….that was her Saturday afternoon ritual and she looked forward to her familiar, friendly and welcoming club every week. She felt at home and it was a great education for me as to what an RSL is at its very heart.

How do you see the Community Support Program evolving even further?  
The Board and Management always strive to listen and be responsive to our local community’s evolving needs – we take great time and consideration with the applications we receive for support, as well as staying up-to-date on what is going on in our local community.

What are three facts most people wouldn’t know about you?
1. I was born in the States (American Dad/Aussie Mum)and made the move to Australia with my family when I was 16.
2. My first love was classical singing and I studied this for years, becoming a professional singer in my 20s.
3. I am blessed with three great kids – a 19 year old daughter and twin 13 year old sons, plus I’m married to a pretty lovely guy who can cook, too!