Today signals the beginning of Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteers, National Volunteer Week.
From Monday 17th of May to Sunday 23rd of May, National Volunteer Week will celebrate the significant contribution of Australia’s almost six million volunteers, who donate over 600 million hours to help others, every year.
The week presents the perfect opportunity for Meals on Wheels Australia to acknowledge the dedication of its 45,000 strong volunteer workforce who enable nourishment, independence and connection to over 200,000 vulnerable Australians, annually.
President of Meals on Wheels Australia Sharyn Broer, says without its volunteers, the work of Meals on Wheels would simply not be possible.
“The last 18 months has been particularly challenging for Meals on Wheels services, however, the resilience and commitment of our incredible volunteer workforce has proved itself second to none.
“From dealing with devastating bushfires and floods to the global COVID-19 pandemic, our volunteers stood up and continued to deliver our essential service at a time where it was needed most,” Ms Broer says.
“We couldn’t support vulnerable Australians without them. And I think that is pretty special…the knowledge that you’re making a real, tangible difference in your community and having a lot of fun while doing so.”
This year’s theme ‘Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine’ acknowledges that it is time to celebrate and thank volunteers for the vital role they play in our lives, reconnect to what is important by giving our time to help others and ourselves and explore how we can better support volunteers and communities they help.
“We recognise the value volunteering has to both our customers and the volunteers themselves,” Ms Broer explains.
“From finding a meaningful purpose, to staying engaged with their communities and making new friendships, volunteering for Meals on Wheels is undoubtedly a rewarding experience.
“Many of our customers say seeing the friendly smile of our volunteers at their doorstep and having a conversation is more important to them than the meal.”
Ms Broer says at a time where COVID-19 was causing feelings of loneliness and uncertainty to be felt nationwide, Meals on Wheels volunteers played a critical role in reducing social isolation and preventing malnourishment.
Evidence has also shown that volunteering improves our mental wellbeing or provides potential pathways to employment.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic meant many of our high-risk volunteers had to stand-down temporarily from their usual duties for their own health and safety, Meals on Wheels services across the country are on the look-out for new volunteers to help cook, prepare and deliver the meals to our vulnerable customers,” Ms Broer says.
If you would like to make a difference in your community get in touch with your local service today by contacting your State or Territory peak body or visiting their website.
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