The Community Foundation recently celebrated the efforts of the volunteers within our districts during National Volunteers Week 2022. National Volunteers week is about highlighting the incredible work committed volunteers do to help our communities thrive. Under this year’s theme, ‘Better Together’, the Community Foundation connected with different community groups from our district, asking them why they choose to give back.
Gippsland’s best known free music festival, the Boolarra Folk Festival, is run entirely by volunteers, offering free music and entertainment over two days. The committee raise necessary funds through food stalls and raffle tickets, covering set-up running costs.
We met with sponsorship, grants and volunteer coordinator, Carolyne Boothman and former President, Ray Stewart, to talk about the Festivals return in 2023. We also asked them why they began volunteering.
“More friends, great experiences, new opportunities, and challenges, lots of laughs and fun,” said Carolyne immediately. “I have a strong background in events management through involvement in netball, as well as being a musician myself. The first time I came to the festival, I fell in love with the relaxed atmosphere, beautiful surroundings, and fabulous community spirit.”
From Boolarra, we took a trip to Yinnar, where we visited Yinnar Community Garden and met a volunteer from Budgeree. Gabriel spoke about why she volunteers and what she gains from giving back.
“I really love learning new things and spending time with like-minded people. It’s a great social outlet and there’s no lock-in commitment – I help when I can with whatever I can.”
Volunteers from the Mirboo & District Historical Society meet up every Wednesday, with a packed lunch, at the Shire Hall. They share stories and talk history over newspaper clippings, all the while answering queries from the public and archiving necessary information.
“This town is still very much run by volunteers, as are most rural towns,” said Jenny Mcllwaine.
“We do it because we’re interested in history, I enjoy the company and I’ve learnt so many things about this town over the years,” said Nancie Kemp.
Volunteers are intrinsic to our communities, contributing hours of work to give something back to the community – whether it is a resource (like historical archives), improved skills (from a community garden), or access to the arts and culture (at a music festival), we benefit from their work.
It was also fabulous to hear that this coming together as volunteers not only gave something back to the community, it had benefits for the volunteers themselves: most commonly, strong social connection and often learning about an area of interest.
It seems that often we start volunteering because someone has to put up their hand to get something done; but in the end there is a personal gain in the experiences, learning and connections we make.
In the end, giving our time as volunteers has a double benefit; it not only strengthens our communities in an area of focus, it also builds stronger connection between people – creating community.
If you would like to learn more about how you can give back, please contact us at the Community Foundation or visit our website: https://mirboodistrictfoundation.org.au/