Thursday, June 19, 2008

Volunteers are Vital

On our recent trip to the country we attended a community event - dinner and a show. It was a major fundraiser for local groups and was all put on by volunteers. An enjoyable evening was had by all. The next day ,once we had forced ourselves to climb out of our warm beds, the conversation turned to community involvement and volunteers.

Country people have always been volunteers, many organizations including the CFA couldn't function without volunteers. Sadly though it is getting harder and harder to attract volunteers. Fewer and fewer people are doing voluntary work and those that are are aging. I am a volunteer and recently at a meeting the topic of the aging volunteer was brought up. At 40 years of age I was one of the youngest sitting around the table, many were considerably older.

Volunteers are vital - we've all heard the slogan but there is a lot of truth behind the words. Think of all the work volunteers do each day in Australia and image how much poorer our lives would be without volunteers.

Volunteers provide essential emergency services - the CFA (Country Fire Authority); SES (State Emergency Service); St John's Ambulance; Red Cross; Salvation Army and the list goes on.
Volunteers give young people a chance to play sport - sport coaches, umpires, committees of management who organize the competition and provide equipment.
Volunteers serve on committees who organize local events - community fairs and fetes, fundraisers
Volunteers work in clubs and associations to provide activities and educational opportunities for community members - Girl Guides, Scouts, RSL, Neighbourhood houses, community visiting schemes, garden clubs, walking clubs.
Volunteers help the environment - Clean Up Australia Day, Tree Planting Days, Earth Care, Friends of groups, community gardens.

Why volunteer? Volunteers provide a richer life for others but they are rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing they have made a difference, meeting new people and making friends and learning new skills. Sometimes these new skills can be used to obtain employment.

Maybe with escalating fuel prices and the cost of living soaring we will be forced to find our entertainment closer to home and community groups will grow. We are losing our sense of community, volunteering helps to bring it back. Find some time to help others - you'll be glad you did.

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