Merlin Gepte is a valued staff member at the Pilbara Community Legal Service where he is a financial counsellor.
But his influence on the Hedland community is much wider and he has worked hard to make a difference since he arrived here with his family from the Philippines nine years ago.
Merlin came to town in a ministry role with the Hedland Christian Church. That was his job for four years, working as an assistant pastor and running a regular youth group which gave young people a chance to get away from everyday stresses in a more wholesome environment.
“We would get about 30 young people every Friday night. We gave them a place to gather to take their attention from bad things,” Merlin says.
He also led Toddler Jam, the church’s sing and play group for families with young children which met on two mornings a week.
Merlin is still involved in the church as a volunteer but for the past four years he has worked at the Pilbara Community Legal Service where people from across the community have benefited from his skills and compassion.
His PCLS colleague Victoria Malyk tells us that Merlin is focused on helping clients from a wide range of backgrounds get on top of their financial problems and work their way out of debt. The results are always a great relief to the client.
“He is dedicated to his work and passionate about helping people. I’m proud to work with him,” Victoria says.
Outside of work, Merlin likes to show his creative side and recently demonstrated elements of his Filipino heritage at Harmony Week celebrations, including palm leaf weaving. We’re told this was just a sample of his craft skills.
Merlin and his wife have four children, three of whom are in Hedland with them. The oldest is at university in Perth. He says the family are in town for the long-term.
“There’s a strong Filipino community here, and we are happy to celebrate our lives here,” he says.
The Hedland community thrives on its diversity, and we’re excited to share the good work that Merlin is doing to enhance that, as well as the very practical contribution he makes every day through his work.
Thank you Merlin!
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