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Celebrating ‘Hidden Treasures’ during National Volunteer Week

The Bugle App

Donna Portland

04 June 2024, 3:16 AM

Celebrating ‘Hidden Treasures’ during National Volunteer Week

On May 23, 2024, the Rural Women's Network hosted a significant event in Wagga Wagga, NSW, to celebrate National Volunteer Week. This event honoured the remarkable women who volunteer in regional and rural NSW and marked the launch of the Hidden Treasures Honour Roll 2023.

The "Hidden Treasures" initiative acknowledges the vital volunteer roles women play within NSW's regional, rural, and remote communities. It serves as a public tribute to express gratitude to the countless women who dedicate their time and energy to helping others.

Women are nominated by peers, friends, or their volunteer organisations to be included on the digital honour roll. Hidden Treasures is an inclusive program where all nominees who meet the eligibility criteria are honoured. Since its inception in 2010, Hidden Treasures has recognised 1,116 women volunteering across regional, rural, and remote NSW.

A 2010 inaugural inductee, Lynne Strong, who attended the event informed, “The Honourable Jodie Harrison highlighted the immense contributions of volunteers: nearly 900 million hours of service each year, which equates to about 17 and a half hours per month per volunteer. The replacement cost of this volunteering effort is estimated to be $39.7 billion—equivalent to hiring the entire NSW Public Service twice!”

During National Volunteer Week, three exemplary women were celebrated for their extraordinary contributions to their communities through the Hidden Treasures Honour Roll.

Diane McParland - Diane's journey of community service began when she married into a farming family in Jamberoo and later managed her own dairy farm. Her commitment evolved from agricultural duties to civic engagement. Diane played a crucial role in founding the South Coast & Tablelands Women in Dairy group and organising its inaugural conference, profoundly impacting the dairy community.

Her volunteerism extends to the Albion Park Show Society, where she has managed numerous facets, including stewarding sections at the annual show and organising the Young Woman and Junior Girls competitions. Diane has been instrumental in encouraging participation in The Land Showgirl, now the Young Woman competition, mentoring young women and helping them succeed at various levels, including the prestigious Sydney Royal. Her efforts have led many mentees to join the show committee or become ambassadors, fostering youth involvement in agriculture.

Additionally, Diane has researched and documented the society's history, contributing to an "Honour Roll" that preserves community heritage. Her volunteer work extends to local church activities and catering for the Dapto Poultry Club, marking her as a cornerstone of local volunteer efforts.

Diane reflects on her motivation: "Being a volunteer to me means doing whatever I can to help others. It is rewarding to see what your help has provided, whether it be confidence, advancing skills, or seeing a happy face when goals are achieved. A personal highlight was being awarded life membership of the Albion Park Show in 2012 and receiving the Royal Agricultural Society award for my services in 2024."

Vivienne Marris - Vivienne's commitment to the Jamberoo community began after relocating from Hobart. Her extensive volunteer work spans sports coaching, managing community events, and leadership roles in the Jamberoo Valley Ratepayers and Residents Association, where she has been instrumental in voicing community needs and concerns.

Vivienne's organisational skills shine as the market organiser for the Jamberoo Village Markets, supporting local artisans and growers. Her involvement with the Jamberoo Red Cross, the Country Women’s Association, and various local sports associations underscores her wide-reaching impact on fostering community spirit.

Recognised as the Kiama Citizen of the Year in 2018, Vivienne's contributions have significantly enhanced local events like the Christmas Giving Tree and annual garden club activities.

"Volunteering offers me the opportunity to give back, so lives can get better and encourage the recipients to believe others care. Volunteering is all about the receiver, not the giver," says Vivienne.

She adds, "Organising the Giving Tree for Christmas for nearly 25 years has been a highlight. We receive over 400 gifts each year, and watching families with small children bring presents in to give to others less fortunate continues to make me smile."

Barbara Adams - Barbara's life as a community volunteer began in Port Kembla, where she actively engaged in local initiatives. Her volunteer journey started with the P&C at Kemblawarra Public School, earning her a life membership for her dedication.

After moving to Jamberoo, Barbara's commitment extended to the local school and the Red Cross, where she served as president, leading to a flourishing membership. For 14 years, she served as secretary and treasurer of the Jamberoo Football Club and organised numerous community events, including the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal and Jamberoo Australia Day celebrations. Barbara's passion is evident in the community's Christmas lights tradition, which she has passionately maintained.

In 2015, Barbara received The John Fries Memorial Award for her work with the Red Cross. Her efforts have earned numerous accolades for the Jamberoo Red Cross's fundraising success.

Reflecting on her work, Barbara says, "I became a volunteer for the Red Cross when I saw the need with the members getting older. I enjoy helping others, whether raising money, making Trauma Teddies, or simply being present in the community."

Barbara was honoured as the Kiama Citizen of the Year in 2022 and received the Kiama Electorate Woman of the Year award in 2024. Her unwavering commitment to volunteerism serves as an inspiration to all aspiring to make a difference in their communities.

Acknowledgment: The Bugle extends gratitude to Lynne Strong, Communication Strategist and Director of Ecosystem Development in Jamberoo, for providing this rich information on these inspirational women.