Cathie Steele was awarded the 2021 City of Greater Bendigo Citizen of the Year and Ma Aye Paw the Young Citizen of the Year during a presentation at Rosalind Park on Monday morning.
Bendigo mayor Cr Jennifer Alden announced the pair as award recipients and said Bendigo is lucky to have people like them working and living among us.
"Bendigo is delighted to honour Ms Steele and Ms Paw and their actions demonstrate what being part of a community is all about," Cr Alden said.
Ms Steele has been recognised for her work as chair of Bendigo Foodshare, after first entering the organisation seven years ago.
"It's a great honour to be named citizen of the year," Ms Steele said.
"I can only accept this on behalf of all of the volunteers at Bendigo Foodshare, who come out seven days a week."
The coronavirus pandemic triggered a surge in demand at Bendigo Foodshare, with Ms Steele involved in increasing its food distribution and collection network.
In 2019, Ms Steele oversaw Bendigo Foodshare's food rescue collections more than double and helped establish the Bendigo Community Food Pantry.
Ma Aye Paw, a 24-year-old Karen refugee from Myanmar, arrived in Bendigo in 2016.
Ms Paw is secretary of the Karen Community Hub and Language School and works tirelessly to support the Karen and other culturally diverse communities.
Ms Paw designed and translated important health messages related to the coronavirus pandemic for the Karen community, on behalf of Bendigo Community Health Services.
"This award is a huge achievement, I am so excited and it is truly unbelievable," she said.
"I am passionate about helping the Karen community and even doing so in a small way, I'm glad to do it."
Ms Paw hopes to study nursing and continue her work in the community.
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