As any regional town or city knows, volunteers are frequently at the heart of everything a community does. Entertainment, events, fundraisers and working bees are where these people shine, and without them often these things simply would happen.
Wednesday, December 5 is International Volunteers Day, which recognises volunteers worldwide. This years theme is “Volunteers build resilient communities” which has a special focus on local community volunteers who contribute to making their communities more resilient against events such as natural disasters and economic stresses, and is especially relevant in rural communities given the tough times people have faced throughout the drought.
One organisation who know the full value of volunteers is Dubbo’s Connecting Community Services (CCS). Previously known as the Dubbo Neighbourhood Centre, the not for profit organisation works tirelessly in Dubbo and in surrounding towns such as Wellington, Narromine, Gilgandra, Warren and Nyngan to help provide much needed programs and resources to vulnerable community groups.
CCS CEO, Michelle Redden, said with 13 programs of their own, plus many more they refer people to, volunteers are vital for their success. “Like many organisations we are heavily reliant on volunteers. The majority of our volunteers are normally elderly people who have retired and have spare time but given the wide variety of work and assistance we do, we have seen an increase in those aged 18 to 25 years starting to help out,” she said.
Volunteering can be tough but it can also be a very rewarding experience for all those involved.Lisa Johnston, Volunteers Manager
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Due to the wide range and in depth nature of CCS’s programs, the volunteer application process can be quite formal, however this shouldn’t deter anyone from applying. CCS Volunteer Manager, Lisa Johnston, said that while they could always use more volunteers, they were extremely grateful for the ones they had. “The volunteers in our communities are amazing and make such a big difference, we are so thankful for the job they do,” she said. “It can be be such a rewarding experience and is something that benefits the whole community”.