Local volunteer recognised

A Woy Woy volunteer has been recognised at the Volunteering Central Coast (VCC) 2021 Awards Ceremony last week for her dedication to the local community.

Gabrielle Grenier from Mary Mac’s Place took out the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award at the May 26 ceremony at Erina Centre.

Since starting with the organisation at three days a week, picking up food rescue for the community, to extending her voluntary hours to five days a week through COVID-19, Gabrielle has been a constant force within Mary Mac’s.

Gabrielle said it was a complete surprise to win the award.

“My boss, Sally Liedberg, nominated me in complete secrecy and only informed me two days prior to the award ceremony that I should go,” she said.

“At this stage, I knew I would receive something but maybe a nomination certificate, which would have been awesome.

“As I told Sally, just being nominated was amazing on its own and honestly, I never expected anything else.

“So, winning the Volunteer of the Year 2021 award was a total surprise!

Gabrielle described her experience of volunteering at the Centre through COVID-19 as challenging but rewarding.

“When COVID-19 hit the Central Coast in March 2020, we went from a team of 10 volunteers to only one with the Catholic Care staff of two.

“This was challenging but keeping Mary Mac’s open became obviously essential during the pandemic.

“We were unable to continue to cook hot meals, so we made up to 120 sandwiches Monday to Friday for people in need.

“At Mary Mac’s the challenging times can be difficult, but seeing people who are homeless, sleeping in parks and streets and come to us for essentials such as food, shower, washing machine or social help … is extremely rewarding.”

Gabrielle also volunteers her time to two other services for aged care and every week goes from one service to another.

She said she started volunteering two years ago after going through a divorce.

“Volunteering has helped me to get out of sadness and find a purpose in life,” she said.

“Being there and caring for others is amazing and woke a force in me I didn’t know I had.

“It has been just as rewarding getting to know all of the volunteers I work with at Mary Mac’s; I have met the most awesome people and am proud to call them my friends, we are like a big family all with the same goal and good hearts to give and help others.”

Manager at Mary Mac’s Place, Sally Liedberg, said Gabrielle goes above and beyond to help the program and the local community.

“We are very lucky to have her on our team and would love to show her recognition,” Liedberg said.

Other categories nominated at the Awards Ceremony were: Young Volunteer, Volunteer Team and ‘Living Legend’ Volunteer as well as Excellence in Volunteer Managers and Corporate Volunteers for 2021.

Nominations are currently being accepted for State-wide awards and close on Friday, July 9.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said it was important recipients were recognised for their commitment to community service.

“The Central Coast is home to more than 46,000 volunteers and our community has a higher rate of volunteering than any other region in Australia,” Crouch said.

“From local sporting groups and school P&Cs to environmental groups and not-for-profit organisations, volunteers are the silent army that keep the Central Coast going.”

Maisy Rae