Friday, 22 May 2020
National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration and
acknowledgement of the generous contributions made by volunteers across the
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
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
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.”