JOYCE Hall has delivered a lot of meals to needy people over 32 years of volunteering with Meals on Wheels. In fact, she spends half of her week volunteering for different organisations including Lismore Neighbourhood Centre and the Adventist Development Relief Agency where she helps dozens of people every day. This week, during a ceremony in Lismore, her hard work was recognised when she was named the 2012 Northern Rivers Senior Volunteer of the Year.
"I feel extremely humbled - I'm shaking," Joyce said. "I really enjoy meeting people and they appreciate it. I can have a bit of a chat with them and it lifts their spirits."
Joyce hands out food and blankets to the homeless and even washes the clothes of hospital patients who have no other support. Over the past 29 years, it's thanks to her work coordinating the weekly Community Calendar for the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre that not-for-profit organisations get to advertise their community events.
The annual NSW Volunteer of the Year Award program is coordinated by The Centre for Volunteering and recognises the outstanding efforts and achievements of millions of volunteers across the state. Volunteers are nominated by people in their local community and CEO for The Centre for Volunteering, Lynne Dalton, is calling for more people in the Northern Rivers to nominate volunteers for next year's awards.
"There are tens of thousands of volunteers in this region and the value of volunteering to the Northern Rivers region is priceless," Ms Dalton said. "This program is a way of saying thank you and we challenge every person, not-for-profit organisation and community group to nominate a volunteer or volunteer team in 2013 to really showcase the region's volunteers to the rest of NSW."
Another Northern Rivers local who was commended for his volunteering work at the 2012 Northern Rivers Volunteer of the Year Award Ceremony was 24-year-old Matthew Kirkham. Not only did he receive the top honour of 2012 Northern Rivers Volunteer of the Year, he also received the Youth Volunteer of the Year award. On weekdays, Matthew works as a full-time primary school teacher and on weekends and evenings, he volunteers with St Vincent de Paul Society. After eight years of working as a volunteer coordinator and trainer, as well as the voice of youth within the Lismore Central Council, Matthew said he wouldn't change a thing.
"I have a lot of late nights," Matthew said "I love being able to help disadvantaged kids and support their families. I get to take them out to do activities they might not otherwise get a chance to do and provide companionship for them. My grandma was a volunteer and I was inspired by her."
Other winners announced at the ceremony include the Lifeline Northern Rivers volunteer in-shift support supervisors who received the 2012 Northern Rivers Volunteer Team of the Year, and Joan Clarke who was highly commended for the Senior Volunteer of the Year Award.