Celebrate volunteers

Dear Editor, 

This week communities across the state are celebrating National Volunteer Week, a great initiative to recognise the selfless unpaid work by women and men of all ages who help keep our towns and suburbs strong.

We all know the high profile work of organisations like Australian Red Cross, Rural Fire Service, St John’s Ambulance, Marine Rescue NSW and the SES with teams of trained volunteers able to assist and respond at a moment’s notice to protect us. But we often don’t see the equally valuable and important work by volunteers who deliver Meals on Wheels, take library books to the elderly or coach our kids in sport. 

As well, there are the parents who roster themselves for the walking school bus to get the neighbourhood’s children to school safely or who are there to do the shuttle to sports practice and matches or provide food and blankets to the homeless each night. Then there is the iconic CWA and also BlazeAid helping farmers recover and rebuild after fire and flood. 

Volunteering is leadership and to encourage the next generation we need to lead by example – 43 per cent of us will volunteer if we witness our parents doing so, but sadly only 23 per cent will if they don’t.

So as we say ‘Thanks a Million’ to the two million volunteers across NSW I challenge you to think about how just an hour of your time could help to strengthen your community and improve the lives of your neighbours.

Andrew Heslop

2012 NSW Volunteer of the Year and founder of Neighbour Day