Volunteers are the unsung heroes of society

As a community journalist, I have had the immense privilege of meeting with and interviewing several inspirational volunteers.

Each time I am amazed at the level of dedication and passion these people have for their causes.

They’re not doing it for the praise, for money or any reason other than a desire to do good and make a difference in the community.

They are, undoubtedly, legends.

Last Thursday was the annual South-west/Macarthur Volunteer of the Year awards. The awards rely on members of the community to nominate a worthy volunteer for their efforts.

This year’s winner was Razorback lawyer Carole-Anne Priest, who took the mantle from Long Point mental health advocate Sandra McDonald (pictured).

Ms Priest was honoured for her work with disadvantaged women, mentoring them in business endeavours and providing free legal advice and support.

Mrs McDonald was honoured in 2016 for her tireless efforts with mental health advocacy group Beautiful Minds.

I was lucky enough to interview both lovely ladies immediately after their wins, this year and last, and was surprised that they told me nearly the exact same thing.

“I’m enormously privileged,” Ms Priest said. “Especially after hearing of all the other [nominated] volunteers and their stories and what they do.”

“There was a room full of people and they were all highly deserving,” Mrs McDonald said. “But they gave it to me and that was very humbling.”

It is us, the community who benefits from their work, who should be “privileged” and “humbled” by Ms Priest and Mrs McDonald.

Their efforts, and the efforts of their peers, have changed so many lives for the better.

It’s hugely important that we continue to recognise the hard work of people like Ms Priest and Mrs McDonald each year.

Whether they think they’re worthy or not, these people deserve all the accolades bestowed upon them. Without volunteers, our beautiful community falls apart. Without volunteers, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community can fall through the cracks.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of a thriving community, the fabric that holds it together.

They are treasures and they should be treated as such.

- Jess Layt, journalist

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