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Every now and then you meet someone who achieves the highest level of success in everything they do. Someone with a real passion to make a difference and give back to the community.
Marisa Vecchio is one of these people. Her charitable nature is inherent—a trait influenced by her mother’s natural generosity and grandmother’s staunch work ethic.
Marisa is a renowned businesswoman and philanthropist. She is also the owner of the historic Hanworth House at East Brisbane, and now uses her profile to raise money for Queensland charities, including Mater Foundation.
Marisa is highly awarded for her achievements.
In 2017, she received the title of Queensland Community Foundation’s, Community Philanthropist of the Year, and in the same year, earned a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her “significant service to the community, particularly to health administration, standards and accreditation, to education, and to business.”
She has also been recognised for her business achievements and was presented the Queensland Telstra Businesswoman of the Year in 2004 for her work as a CEO of Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) and her work in national patient safety standards.
Marisa raises more than $40 000 for Mater each year by hosting the successful Henschke at Hanworth wine dinner in July, the Bernadette O’Shea champagne dinner in October, and making donations from merchandise sales at the Hanworth Open House.
Marisa said her commitment to Mater, and in particular fundraising for breast and prostate cancers, has been driven by her lifetime connection to Mater hospitals and her family’s compassion for the community.
“I was born at Mater, so the Mater has always had a very special place in my mother’s heart," she said.
“Since then, Mater has always been part of my family. My mother a talented artist by the name of Romana Preston was treated for ovarian cancer at Mater.
“Then in 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and was also treated by specialists at Mater Private Hospital.”
Marisa said Mater and the caring staff had helped her family through many life-changing moments, so when she bought Hanworth House, after her mother died in 2012, she knew she wanted to give back to the community and to organisations such as Mater that helped her.
“The sentiment of giving has always been strong in our family,” she said
“My mother was always helping people or always helping others above herself.
“I’ve always been very philanthropic, as has Hanworth House, so we continued its legacy and repurposed the house to host those in need and events for the community.
“Together we've been able to achieve many things for the greater community.
“Hanworth has become not only a great place to stay but also a wonderful community hub focussed on earning money for charity and benefiting local causes.”
Marisa’s humanitarian spirit dates back much further than her time at Hanworth House, and she has been heavily involved with Zonta International for two decades.
Marisa said she believed that we are the product of the circumstances that happen to us.
“I feel philanthropy has been very much an organic step for me.
"It has enabled me to use my business and networking skills that I refined throughout my career and use them for the greater good and to support people in need within the community,” she said.
Photo caption: Four generations captured; Marisa (from right) with her mother Romana Preston, her grandmother Olga Radford and her daughter Isabella in 2005.