Empowering by volunteering: community celebrates local heroes

To mark National Volunteer Week, the City of Boroondara has released Volunteers of Boroondara, a collection of 12 volunteer stories and portraits that celebrate the diverse ways volunteers are making a local impact.

The campaign reveals why local volunteers are motivated to give their time, what it means to participate in their community, and why they encourage others to take up a volunteer role.

City of Boroondara Mayor Cr Cynthia Watson said ‘Volunteers of Boroondara’ is a celebration of our robust volunteering community.

“At any given time, generous volunteers are supporting the important work of local community organisations,” she said.

“From preparing meals, revegetating parklands, preserving local history to providing transport for vulnerable residents to help them attend medical appointments, volunteers are there to roll up their sleeves where it is needed most.”

Boroondara has one of the strongest rates of volunteering in metropolitan Melbourne, with more than one-quarter of residents (26 per cent) reporting they performed voluntary work in the 12 months preceding the 2016 Census.

“I encourage everyone to visit Council’s volunteering portal to find volunteering opportunities to match their interests, skills and availability,” said Cr Watson.

National Volunteer Week is celebrated from Monday 18 to Sunday 24 May.

Some of our hero volunteers in Boroondara

Adam Trudgen, Technical Volunteer for Solve Disability Solutions

By day, Adam works as an electrician. By evening, Adam uses his skills as a technical volunteer, creating modified equipment for Boroondara residents living with a disability. Over the past seven years, Adam has used his qualification as an electrician, and experience in electronic design and automation, to create custom-made assistive technology devices, including a wheelchair-friendly mini-golf putter, modified cutlery, a foot-controlled camera shutter and even a fully robotic pool-cue arm.

His volunteer work supports the mission of Solve Disability Solutions, an organisation providing occupational therapy and custom assistive technology services for people living with a disability or chronic illness.

With the assistance of an occupational therapist, Adam meets with clients and then spends time researching, designing, and developing a prototype to test, then fine-tune a device until it meets the client’s needs, and is safe and fit for purpose.

Bronwyn Billimoria, Volunteer Cook at Boroondara Cooks

When Bronwyn isn’t dividing time between family and her professional work as a speech pathologist, you can find her delivering a home cooked meal as part of her volunteer role with Boroondara Cooks.

Run by the City of Boroondara, the Boroondara Cooks program is a meal-sharing and community-strengthening program, which connects people who like to cook with older residents in the community. Volunteers share an extra portion of their home-cooked meal with an older resident.

Jenny Dodd, Volunteer at Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria

Volunteering has come in a variety of roles for Jenny, who has spent the past eight years volunteering with Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria (BSRV), an organisation dedicated to meeting the needs of people who have vision loss, and enabling them to participate in a variety of sporting programs.

From administrative support to assisting the president on special projects, Jenny has embraced a variety of roles to increase opportunities for people living with vision impairment to participate in many activities.

Each week, Jenny assists participants in their gym program to make sure they are comfortable with the equipment so they can complete their workouts. Soon, Jenny will also be teaching a new Qigong class.

Peter Schiller, Volunteer Driver at Boroondara Community Transport

Not all heroes wear capes and Peter’s volunteer efforts through the City of Boroondara’s Community Transport team is a true testament to this. Every Monday, the humble volunteer picks up local residents who would otherwise be unable to travel to medical appointments, drops them off to their appointment and then takes them home.

Peter’s volunteering began two years earlier, after planning how to spend his retirement. Volunteering, and making a meaningful contribution, was a key part of his plan.

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