National Volunteer Week: Celebrating the locals who put their hand up to help

THANKS A MILLION: National Volunteer Week runs May 17-23. It's a time to 'Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine.'
THANKS A MILLION: National Volunteer Week runs May 17-23. It's a time to 'Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine.'

It's National Volunteer Week - a time to thank those in the community who put their hand up to help.

In celebration of National Volunteer Week (May 17-23), Port Stephens Council is acknowledging the work of the 600-plus people that undertake volunteer work in the community.

"Our 640 volunteers give their time and energy to make Port Stephens a better place - without them many of our services and programs couldn't exist," Mayor Ryan Palmer said.

"They help to keep our parks, reserves and cemeteries pristine, improve our natural bush areas and keep our local centres up and running. From making a hands-on contribution through Landcare and our libraries or managing the programs and services in our local community halls - our volunteers are the lifeblood of the community."

The theme for 2021 National Volunteer Week is Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine. The theme acknowledges that it is time to:

  • Recognise, celebrate and thank volunteers for the vital role they play in our lives.
  • Reconnect to what is important by giving our time to help others and ourselves.
  • Reimagine how we better support volunteers and communities they help.

Port residents are being encouraged to wear orange to work on Wednesday, May 19 in support of the NSW State Emergency Service, a volunteer organisation.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, said Wear Orange to Work Day is specially designated to thank the men and women who give up their time to help their community through storms, floods and tsunamis.

"For more than 65 years, thousands of community members have donned the iconic orange uniform to protect their communities from these hazards. They don't do this because they want recognition or special commendations, but because they care about their community," he said.

NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York echoed Mr Elliott's call for communities to show appreciation for the men and women of the service.

"Every year during National Volunteer Week, we make sure our members know the work they do year-round doesn't go unnoticed. Especially after the recent floods that hit in March, I know our volunteers will truly appreciate this small gesture and acknowledgement of the work they do," she said.

About 3.6 million Australians volunteer their time to help charities, sporting clubs, visit the sick and elderly, and much more.

Vinnies is the nation's largest volunteer organisation, which includes 6417 people who staff Vinnies' 227 shops statewide

"Every Vinnies member and volunteer makes a real difference for people struggling to pay rent, put food on the table, manage utility bills, and provide for their children," St Vincent de Paul Society NSW president Peter McNamara said.

"Our shop volunteers span generations, from those in their twenties to our veterans in their 90s. They work front-of-house, managing the tills and shop displays. Out the back, they sort donations to ensure that everything on sale is in good condition. The fact that they volunteer saves millions of dollars that we can use to help support people in need."

Cr Palmer said in light of the events of the past 18 months, it was more important than ever to celebrate volunteers.

"Given everything we've been through as a community over the past 18 months - including fires, floods and a pandemic - it's more important than ever to recognise the role volunteers play to make our communities strong and resilient," he said.

"This week is also an opportunity to reconnect through volunteering and to reimagine how we can better support volunteers to help our community, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There are plenty of ways to get involved in your community, whatever your time or skills. We recently held the Medowie 7 Day Makeover where we welcomed many people who hadn't volunteered before to reimagine and recreate their town centre.

"No matter how big or small their contribution, our volunteers have a huge impact on our environment, economy and community. Their efforts make many of our Council's projects and services possible, meaning better outcomes for our whole community."

Volunteer in Port Stephens: portstephens.nsw.gov.au/volunteers

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