It was a day to celebrate some of the most generous people in our community; people who give their time and energy tirelessly to help others.
At Eden’s Uniting Church Hall on Wednesday morning, December 6, a crowd gathered to see some of the recipients of the Premier’s Volunteer Recognition Awards receive certificates from Bega MP Andrew Constance.
Following Pastor Ossie Cruse’s welcome to country, Mr Constance spoke about the “incredibly special Aboriginal community in our part of the world” and referenced the work on the Bundian Way saying it was “something we all need to be part of”.
He said it was easy to take for granted the volunteer work across the community but in fact it represented $10bn worth of economic uplift across the state.
“That is $10bn the taxpayer doesn’t have to find,” Mr Constance said adding that locally between 36-40 per cent of the population volunteered while in some areas of Sydney it was just 6 per cent.
Pastor Cruse, John Liston, Helen Geraghty and Janna Kruizinga were all recognised for their lifelong voluntary work.
In accepting her certificate volunteer Maree O’Neil told how she had been made redundant from the chip mill, lost her mum “and crashed”.
She said that being a volunteer and the help she received from those at the Eden Community Access Centre put her back on her feet again.
Volunteer in the 25 year category, Eileen Cameron, paid tribute of all the local volunteers calling them selfless and inspiring.
Two students of Eden Marine High School, Hunter Watts and Makenzie Upton received awards; they are part of a group of students who visit the Eden Bupa Aged Care and Nursing Home and Roy Wotton Gardens Nursing Home each week.
The students visit the homes, talk, play games and play the piano for residents.
For Makenzie, volunteering led to the start of her career. She now has a traineeship with Bupa and is taking her Certificate III in individual care while she continues through school.
Hunter Watts is an accomplished piano player and plays favourite songs for the residents.
“I love seeing how happy they get. They know the songs and come out of their rooms,” he said.
Hunter said he had been told that his music had inspired a couple of the residents to start playing the piano again.
The Year 9 and 10 students are also finalists in the Volunteer Team awards category of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards which will be announced on Friday.
Volunteers who received the Premier’s Volunteer Recognition Awards
Lifelong volunteers: Pastor Ossie Cruse, John Liston, absent: Helen Geraghty, Janna Kruizinga
25 year volunteers: Eileen Cameron
Retiree volunteers: absent: Nancy Weatherman
Project volunteers: Michael Brosnan, Marie Cameron, Viv de Lacy Peek, Michele Francis, Ann McColgan, Maree O’Neil, Pam Skelton, Paul Wakenshaw, Ian Whiter, absent: Helen Walder, Denise Carson, Lois Clark, Vera Clark, Christine Freudenstein, Jane Hebron-Steele, Jenny Kerr, Deb and Chris Lewis, John Mutch, Peter Skelton, Denise Swain, Clare Whiter, Flo Young.
Student volunteers: Makenzie Upton, Hunter Watts