Lifeline's Central Victoria and Mallee volunteers take about 700 calls from Australians in crisis every month.
Our volunteers do lifesaving work every day and it is only possible because of their dedication and commitment.
We are nearing the end of celebrating National Volunteer Week and it provides a great opportunity to reflect on the benefits of volunteering.
Our volunteers are central Victorian's with different backgrounds, experiences, ages and cultures.
They all have one thing in common though - their passion for Lifeline and being there for each other.
For many, volunteering provides structure, an anchor in the week, a strong purpose, connection and chance to give back to the community.
At Lifeline, volunteering comes with significant training and the opportunity to develop new skills and experiences that can be applied to other areas of life.
But what do our volunteers say?
I took the opportunity this week to speak to some of our Lifeline volunteers about their experiences.
Volunteers told me they get as much back from volunteering as what they give.
They feel a great satisfaction and privilege knowing they provide hope to people who have found the courage to reach out.
Our volunteers said volunteering comes with both challenges and rewards, but there are benefits to be had for all.
Volunteering provides them with a sense of belonging and community and creates a space for like-minded people to connect.
Volunteers value learning the art of truly listening, to put their troubles aside and to be totally available to another person.
They enjoy learning about life with each other and with help-seekers through exploring issues.
Important life lessons on how to slow down and put things into perspective and not sweat the small stuff are all key takeaways.
Volunteers said they improved their skill level through every call, always learning something new.
Volunteers told me about the importance of being part of a culture that is genuinely about being there for each other.
It was evident in talking to each volunteer that their contribution is about connection and the need to connect is as valuable to the volunteer as it is to the help-seeker.
Through volunteering, we are able to connect, give back and be part of something really important and bigger than ourselves.
While we volunteer for the good of others, we certainly get a lot in return.
It is important to acknowledge the valuable and often silent contribution made by every volunteer in central Victoria and as a community say a collective thank you for their hours of dedication and admirable generosity.
As one Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee volunteer said, "I come away thinking this is where I belong and where I make a difference."
Rebecca Cornish is the chief executive of Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee.