Annual volunteering awards ceremony held

Roma Dowling accepting the Living Legend Award from Dr Jacqui Larkin and Jourdan Mitchell accepting the Young Volunteer of the Year award from Emma Gilbert

Volunteering Central Coast held their annual awards ceremony on May 26, recognising individuals on the Coast who devote their time, energy and enthusiasm as volunteers in the community.

The event, which was held at the Erina Centre, recognised some of the achievements of volunteers across the Coast such as Roma Dowling, who received the Living Legend, Volunteer of the Year 2021, that recognised her 25 years of volunteer work at the Toukley Neighbourhood Centre.

Dowling has been volunteering with the Neighbourhood Centre’s Community Visitors Scheme, where she visits nursing homes to spend time with residents to enrich their lives.

Despite her own health concerns and the pandemic, Dowling has adapted to changes and challenges, such as learning how to use Zoom to virtually visit her aged care friends.

Sam Remo resident, Jourdan Mitchell, received the Young Volunteer of the Year award for his work with Y NSW, where he leads and assists in the running of the organisation’s StreetGym program and coordinating the recreation centre for the recent Youth Career Expo.

He is also a youth advocate addressing local youth issues from youth disengagement, unemployment and school bullying, as well as being a positive role model.

The 17-year-old said he helps mentor the younger kids and assisted in setting up the recreation centre for the Employment Expo.

“It’s wonderful to be recognised, you never really think about the difference you make until someone points it out.

“I’ve been volunteering with them for about 18 months, I love volunteering for them, it couldn’t be better.” Mitchell said.

The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week was Recognise, Reconnect, Reimagine focusing on organisations adapting to the changes and challenges from COVID-19, and celebrating a resurgence in people wanting to volunteer after a long hiatus, as well as reconnecting with loyal volunteers.

Executive Officer of Volunteering Central Coast (VCC) Fiona Morrison, said the judges were looking for how volunteers personified Volunteer Central Coast’s message about volunteering- Helping people, changing lives…

“We feel that the real winners are the organisations and communities in which all our nominees volunteer.

“This year, at the 2021 National Volunteer Week Award face-to-face presentations , we were very happy to have the finalists from our 2020 NVW Awards also join us to be able to present their certificates in person,” Morrison said.

Presenting the awards on the evening were: Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch; Member for Wyong, David Harris; Central Coast Council Administrator, Rik Hart; Emma Gilbert from the Department of Communities and Justice, and, VCC Board members, Randal Tame, Dr Jacqui Larkin and Andrew Cordwell.

Harry Mulholland