Hands up if you are a vol­un­teer

Cel­e­brat­ing our un­sung he­roes


BE­NEATH the bright morn­ing sun last Wednes­day, 40 vol­un­teers gath­ered at the Heath­cote Health main­te­nance shed for a bar­be­cue break­fast to cel­e­brate In­ter­na­tional Vol­un­teers Day. The event was part of a wider day of recog­ni­tion, ac­knowl­edg­ing the ef­forts of vol­un­teers around the world and the value they bring to their com­mu­ni­ties.

Vol­un­teers at­tended from sev­eral lo­cal groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Man­dalay Re­sources, Heath­cote Com­mu­nity House, Royal Fly­ing Doc­tors Ser­vice, the Am­bu­lance Aux­il­iary, Li­ons and IGA. This year’s theme — vol­un­teers build re­silient com­mu­ni­ties — recog­nised the role vol­un­teers play in strength­en­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and ad­vo­cat­ing for change.

Heath­cote Health chief ex­ec­u­tive Dan Dou­glass said vol­un­teers played a ‘crit­i­cal’ role in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties such as Heath­cote.

“Many com­mu­nity groups, par­tic­u­larly the smaller ones, run on the smell of an oily rag,” he said. “Without vol­un­teers they sim­ply couldn’t oper- ate. Stud­ies show that one vol­un­teer is worth $27-$35 hour. Mul­ti­plied, the im­pact can be huge for a com­mu­nity group and a town”.

But Mr Dou­glass said the ben­e­fits of hav­ing vol­un­teers ex­tended be­yond the fi­nan­cial.

“It’s a great way for peo­ple to de­velop new skills and build a path­way into paid em­ploy­ment,” he said. “It’s also a great way of build­ing re­la­tion­ships with the com­mu­nity, which cre­ates a sense of be­long­ing. Peo­ple tell me it im­proves their sense of well­be­ing, too”. What vol­un­teer­ing means to me

“Li­ons is in­volved in the com­mu­nity in so many ways. It’s a great way to con­nect and to give back. New mem­bers are al­ways wel­come — in fact, we’d love to have you.” Heath­cote Li­ons Club’s Greg and Lor­raine Speirs.

“Vol­un­teer­ing has helped me de­velop new skills and con­fi­dence. I like how knowl­edge is shared be­tween peo­ple, it’s not for­mal like study. Over­all, I feel like I’m part of some­thing big­ger and that means a lot,’’ Heath­cote Com­mu­nity House’s Linda Cor­nelis­sen.

“We donate food to com­mu­nity groups around town. I like the fact that I can work at a job where I’m mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.” IGA’s Gerry Pick­ett.

“Be­fore I re­tired I used to drive trucks and buses. Driv­ing pa­tients to ap­point­ments means that I’m still us­ing my skills, as well as help­ing peo­ple main­tain their in­de­pen­dence.’’ Royal Fly­ing Doc­tors Ser­vice’s Tom For­man.

Vol­un­teers in Heath­cote cel­e­brate In­ter­na­tional Vol­un­teer Day last week. For more pic­tures from the event, turn to page 3.

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