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Chess enthusiasts group spreads strong community Christmas spirit

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Maria Smith
Maria Smith
Maria Smith is the former Chairperson of the Australian Filipino Community Services, a non-profit organisation based in Victoria.

The Coonara Community House (CCH) at Upper Ferntree Gully was abuzz with excitement as the Knox Community Chess Enthusiasts (KCCE) families and friends celebrated the start of the festive season following a two-year break, huge thanks to the State Government Multicultural Seniors Support Grant. 

The spirit of the magical season filled the air with nostalgia as the St Simon’s (Rowville) Sanghimig Choir (led by Ver Umipig and Choir Coordinator Luvy Esqueho) sang beautiful traditional Christmas Carolling melodies in English and Filipino. There was also a karaoke sing-along and dancing, mouth-watering barbecue and pizzas, and chess competitions in the adjacent room filled with enthusiastic multi-age players.

KCCE Founder and President Eddie Atacador organised this event with the full support of CCH Manager Sandra Romero who has been truly impressed with Atacador’s efforts to unite and provide multicultural seniors with intergenerational activities (such as games of chess and chess tournaments) that align with the not-for-profit CCH’s mission to encourage community participation and inspire individual empowerment. 

In September, Atacador was also a remarkable recipient of the Knox City Volunteers Award at the Knox Community and Charity Volunteers Conference, which highlighted the significant contributions of volunteers. The KCCE also featured in the Knox Seniors Festival in October, celebrating and supporting seniors to age positively and gloriously. 

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KCCE Christmas guest speaker Cr Meagan Baker representing Knox City Council Dobson Ward proudly spoke of KCCE’s humble beginnings five years ago with less than half a dozen chess enthusiasts growing into approximately 1000 community members (in various age groups) over the years playing chess at the Westfield Knox Community Space and Rowville Community Centre. 

KCCE
KCCE Christmas with President Eddie Atacador (left) and CCH Manager Romero (middle) and Maria Smith.

Cr Baker was delighted to witness chess games in action during the Christmas event and recognised the important opportunity “for like-minded people to engage, maintain connectivity and make new friendships in Knox.”

KCCE Atacador’s guest singer grandson Zac was an added delight at the event performing the KCCE theme song, composed by Freddie Baltazar, while volunteers led by wife Lita Atacador and sister-in-law Linda Vytiaco Lampa certainly contributed to another truly fantastic celebration.

Atacador took the opportunity to thank members and volunteers, the Westfield Knox City Centre Management for their gift cards and free use of the Westfield Community Space as the home for KCCE, the Coonara Community House management and the Knox City Council for their generous grants to benefit multicultural seniors, particularly in spreading a strong community Christmas spirit.

Maria Smith
Maria Smith
Maria Smith is the former Chairperson of the Australian Filipino Community Services, a non-profit organisation based in Victoria.

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