Volunteers often go unnoticed by society at large, but this does not deter them in their efforts to help those who are unable to help themselves.
National Volunteers Week, now underway, is when we acknowledge their efforts.
They are the ones in the background making the little differences in people’s lives which, when put together, reveal a big impact on the community.
The roles they perform range all the way from door-to-door fundraising to manning suicide helplines at organisations like Lifeline WA.
Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor says she cannot begin to explain how important volunteers are to the organisation.
“I almost can’t quantify how integral they are, they are the heart and soul of Lifeline,” she says.
The Lifeline WA crisis support number is staffed 100 per cent of the time by volunteers who undergo rigorous training to undertake the job.
There are 170 hours of classroom role-play and training which is roughly equivalent to a year of practice, all in their own time without pay.
She says the volunteers went above and beyond during the lockdown.
“Between the start of March and end of April this year 51 per cent more calls were answered than this time last year and that is because our volunteers logged 41 percent more hours during this pandemic,” she says.
Mrs MacGregor says throughout the lockdown Lifeline volunteers have saved lives.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts call the Lifeline crisis support number on 11 13 14.
For Cancer Council WA the volunteers who lend a hand are the reason they are able to help as many as they do.
People and culture coordinator for Cancer Council WA Fiona Cunninghame says volunteers are instrumental to operations.
“We couldn’t do what we do without them,” she says.
Last year some 1,156 volunteers logged 62,323 hours across the Cancer Council’s various services.
Many of these hours came from volunteer drivers who are a part of the ‘transport to treatment’ program.
The program is set up to provide people undergoing cancer treatment transport from either Crawford Lodge in Nedlands or Milroy Lodge in Shenton Park to the hospital and back again.
All of this is done by volunteers for free in their own time.
She says the 53 drivers currently in the program completed 6126 trips last year.
Even on a grassroots level volunteers do what they feel is necessary, not to garner fame or money, but because they take pride in their community.
The Lions of Western Australia is one of many multinational volunteer groups and has various branches within WA.
One of these branches is the Lions of Duncraig who provide many local services including newspaper recycling and educational mentoring.
This organisation is a microcosm of what it means to be a volunteer, each job no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, is done to serve a higher purpose.