Celebrating the generous contribution of Geelong’s volunteers

Friday, 22 May 2020

National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration and acknowledgement of the generous contributions made by volunteers across the country.

In the Geelong region, we are fortunate to benefit from the tireless efforts of volunteers who contribute to our community in a huge variety of roles.

One of these dedicated volunteers is Elaine Anderson, Red Cross Operations Manager for the City of Greater Geelong and surrounding municipalities. Elaine has been at the forefront of emergency food relief during the COVID-19 pandemic with the Red Cross ensuring that emergency relief packages reach people in self-isolation who have no local network of family or friends to support them.

The scheme, introduced by the Victorian Government across the State, relies on Red Cross volunteers to prepare and deliver hampers of emergency relief supplies including food, water and personal care for people most in need.

The Red Cross is one of several agencies providing emergency food relief in the region with the Geelong Food Relief Centre, the Geelong Food Assistance Network, the Salvos and others playing a vital role in sourcing and delivering essential groceries and meals for people in need.

This year’s theme for National Volunteer Week is ‘Changing Communities. Changing Lives’ and there is no doubt that the contribution of volunteers providing hands-on food support will change lives during the COVID-19 crisis.

In the City of Greater Geelong, 20.5 per cent of the population reported doing some form of voluntary work when surveyed in 2016. With this huge participation by our community, it is not surprising that we benefit from their contributions in many facets of our lives.

The City relies on the assistance of volunteers in various roles including supervision of learner drivers to obtain 120 supervised driving hours (L2P); providing visitor information to people visiting our region; delivering meals on wheels; and enhancing the experience of visitors to the National Wool Museum as guides. Members of the non-profit organisation, Friends of the Geelong Botanic Gardens, contribute their time and expertise at the gardens.

There are so many local organisations which rely on the hard work and dedication of volunteers. Residents interested in becoming volunteers can view a range of opportunities on the Volunteering Geelong website at www.volunteeringgeelong.org.au. Volunteering Geelong provides a referral service for volunteers looking for roles and for organisations seeking volunteers, so they are a great place to start if considering volunteering. Roles range from short assignments (or bite-size volunteering) through to roles with regular, ongoing hours.

Elaine Anderson, Regional operations Manager, Red Cross, says:

“I am doing food relief for Red Cross for isolated people. I live in Geelong and we go down to FoodBank in Melbourne and pick up the food parcels and then deliver them to whoever in Western Victoria needs them, from the SA border to Mildura.

[When] I was doing food relief parcels, I dropped one up into the country, this house had glass sliding doors and I could see all three adults inside giving me a virtual hug and blowing kisses. I could tell through the tone of their voice that were nearly crying and that melted me in the heart.

Another time I was deployed to Queensland for a cyclone and there were a couple of elderly people. For them to sort out their finances and get relief they had to have a photo ID. One woman was 97 and couldn’t drive and I took her down to the police station and had her photo taken and did a Stat Dec. She just stood there and cried. She didn’t have to say thank you but with her expressions I could tell she was grateful and I was pleased to have helped.”

Mayor, Cr Stephanie Asher, says:

“I’d like to express my gratitude to all of the volunteers in our region. You do an amazing job and your efforts enrich our community, change lives and touch hearts.

Our region would not be the same without your dedication and tireless efforts. With the COVID-19 pandemic, our community has needed you more than ever before, and you have risen to the challenge. Thank you.”

Page last updated: Thursday, 28 May 2020