Reflections on the benefits of volunteering, and thank you volunteers!

I’d like to begin by saying a big thank you to all those volunteers out there, including our valued NGT volunteers. Thank you so much for all your help this year! Putting your hand up to help as a volunteer makes so many tasks possible here at NGT.

I’d like to offer a particular thanks to the dedicated crew of volunteers that have helped me at our Walker Swamp Field Work Fridays. You have helped achieve so much this year, I hope you all enjoyed yourselves along the way. We had a dozen committed people come along to a soggy Walker Swamp Field Work Friday end of year BBQ in November, which, despite the inclement weather, was a very enjoyable afternoon to reflect and get to know one another. 

Walker Swamp Field Work Fridays will continue in 2024 on the last Friday of the month, starting from February 23rd.

I’d like to take this opportunity to personally reflect on what it’s like to volunteer and the joy volunteering can bring to people’s lives. Volunteering can take on many forms, whether it be with local landcare groups, sporting clubs, helping out at op. shops or fighting fires with the CFA. Recently, I was reminded of how deeply enriching a culture of volunteering can be, at the funeral of my late Uncle Greg. In his eulogy I learnt of his passion for volunteering throughout his life. Starting with sporting clubs in his early years, then onto APEX soil conservation clubs across Victoria, his local racing club and at his children’s school and sporting clubs. 

At the wake, family and friends reflected upon how many friendships, and lifelong community connections were brought about by his decision to volunteer. We also observed that most volunteers seem to be older people, and that volunteer numbers across most sectors may be declining. This seems troubling, but many complex factors contribute to this generational shift.

What we can learn from Uncle Greg is that volunteering can bring fulfillment, friendships and connection to community – something we could all use more of. So, if you or someone you know has ever been curious about volunteering, go for it! Reach out to the community groups or leaders in that area and get some information, take baby steps if you need, and take a step to get involved. Overcoming barriers to volunteering isn’t as simple for everyone, but contributing in any way to your community and the cause that you care about is bound to create opportunities for genuine connection, learning new skills and a sense that positive change is always possible.

At NGT we have a highly valued group of skilled volunteers that lend a hand when called on, and we thank you very much and want you to know that you mean so much to NGT. Wishing you a safe holiday season and see you in a swamp next year!

Cheers,  Tom.

P.S. New years resolution – let’s all have a go at volunteering!

Tom Sheehan