Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre celebrates International Volunteer Day 2017

COMMUNITIES worldwide are today celebrating the contributions of volunteers.

The Bendigo Library was a hub for International Volunteer Day festivities this morning, as the Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre hosted a morning tea.

Centre manager Helen Yorston said volunteers had contributed at least 7 million hours of service to the community throughout the year.

It was likely more, taking into account the many and varied ways in which people ‘lend a hand’ to help better the community.

“A lot of people don’t see it as volunteering,” Ms Yorston said.

“They’re here, there and everywhere making a difference.”

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The resource centre has supported more than 3500 people to find volunteering opportunities.

Ms Yorston said the nature of volunteering was changing to meet the needs of people who were time poor but keen to have a positive influence in their community.

She said people valued flexibility and meaning when searching for volunteer opportunities.

“Really, to know they are making a difference,” Ms Yorston said. 

Social media was creating opportunities to get involved in initiatives virtually, which Ms Yorston said suited the circumstances of some people.

Others sought opportunities which encouraged them to forge social connections. 

Lorraine Marlow has been a volunteer for years, offering her skills to aged care facilities as well as the Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre.

She said the friendships she had formed with residents of the facilities transcended the formalities of the role.

“It’s nice to get to know the residents,” Ms Marlow said.

“It’s just a delight to see them smiling and happy.”

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Ms Marlow said she would make a point of sitting down to chat with residents who did not have regular visitors.

“I spend extra time in my own time seeing them,” she said.

She said the stories residents had told her about their lives have enriched hers.

“It’s just good fun to give. I hope when I’m older someone will come along and do the same for me,” Ms Marlow said. 

Speaking at the event at the Bendigo Library, Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards highlighted the invaluable contribution of volunteers.

“It’s the lifeblood of our communities,” she said.

The Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre will tomorrow host an information session about volunteering during times of emergency.

The Spontaneous Volunteering session is scheduled to run from 9.30am – noon tomorrow at the Bendigo Library.