Many ways to vol­un­teer in small towns

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE - Adam Poulsen

Mullewa res­i­dent Julie Free­man de­scribes her­self as a “full-time vol­un­teer”.

The list of or­gan­i­sa­tions the 48year-old freely gives her time to is so long that she was named 2017 Vol­un­teer of the Year by Cen­tacare Com­mu­nity Ser­vices.

Be­fore mov­ing to Mullewa to teach in the early 1990s, she had never vol­un­teered in her life.

“In my sec­ond year in town I was asked if I’d be Miss Foot­ball for the lo­cal club, and I very naively said yes, hav­ing no idea what I was in for,” Mrs Free­man said.

“It was a bit of a bap­tism of fire to sud­denly be sell­ing raf­fle tick­ets and re­ally not know­ing what the heck I was do­ing.

“But one thing leads to an­other and, once you start in a small town, you don’t stop.”

Since giv­ing up teach­ing four years ago, Mrs Free­man has found plenty of ways to pass the time.

To­day, on top of her role as vi­cepres­i­dent of the lo­cal Com­mu­nity Re­source Cen­tre, she is sec­re­tary of the Mullewa Dis­trict Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety, and a found­ing mem­ber of the Mullewa Com­mu­nity Group.

She is also in­volved with var­i­ous sport and school groups, and helps to or­gan­ise events such as the an­nual Mullewa Muster and Rodeo.

And it would ap­pear grow­ing up in a small town where vol­un­teers are crit­i­cal has in­flu­enced Mrs Free­man’s two daugh­ters, aged 18 and 20, to do the same.

“Be­cause they’ve grown up with

par­ents who vol­un­teer, they very nat­u­rally vol­un­teer and get in­volved in stuff,” she said.

“If we didn’t have a re­ally strong body of vol­un­teers in our com­mu­nity, our qual­ity of life would be halved.

“We just can’t rely on gov­ern­ment and busi­ness for things to hap­pen, so we have to do it our­selves.” Mrs Free­man said be­ing recog­nised for her work had been a huge hon­our and a “real boost”, and she en­cour­aged peo­ple to nom­i­nate oth­ers for this year’s awards.

“Take five min­utes to fill in the form be­cause the dif­fer­ence it makes to them is just im­mea­sur­able,” she said.

Nom­i­na­tions close at 5pm on Fri­day.

Win­ners will be an­nounced at a cer­e­mony at Queens Park Amp­ithe­atre on De­cem­ber 5.

To nom­i­nate, visit cen­tacare ger­ald­ 2018-vol­un­teer-of-the-year­award/.

Emma Jack­son, of Sci­napse, Apex and Pol­li­na­tors, was named joint 2017 Vol­un­teer of the Year, along with Mrs Free­man.

Julie Free­man, right, and Philippa Rum­ble at the 2017 Mullewa Agri­cul­tural Show. Mrs Free­man is urg­ing peo­ple to nom­i­nate oth­ers for this year's Cen­tacare Vol­un­teer of the Year award, which she won in 2017.

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