Some of the Illawarra’s most hard-working and passionate volunteers were recognised at an awards ceremony last week, but organisers are concerned about the low number of nominations.
There were no nominations for the youth volunteer category of the Illawarra Volunteer of the Year Awards at Corrimal Library and Community Centre last Wednesday.
Bulli community stalwart Max Ackerman, 76, was named 2012 Illawarra Volunteer of the Year, recognising his work with the Northern Illawarra Residents Action Group over 18 years.
Mr Ackerman and others formed NIRAG in 1984 in response to proposals to construct coal bins at Sandon Point.
He led the formation of the Sandon Point community picket in 2001 to protect the site and has also been active in Bulli surf club and the Bulli Show Society.
‘‘It [the award] was an embarrassing surprise,’’ he said.
‘‘Like most volunteers they don’t expect rewards. You just help people out, that’s all ... it’s a selfish thing to receive reward for something you enjoy doing.’’
The awards are part of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, started in 2007 by The Centre for Volunteering. They are supported by the NSW Government and ClubsNSW.
NSW Volunteer of the Year Award manager Kristin Sinclair said the quality of nominations for the Illawarra was outstanding but the numbers must increase.
‘‘There are tens of thousands of volunteers here and just a handful were nominated,’’ she said.
The Centre for Volunteering chief executive Lynne Dalton said the absence of nominations in the 15 to 25 age category was worrying.
‘‘They are our future and we know they’re out there doing stuff but we need to encourage other people to recognise that,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re going to be at the receiving end of their support one day, so we need to get them on board.’’
Towradgi resident Marlene Scott, 74, won Illawarra Senior Volunteer of the Year for her almost 20 years of helping the Tom Thumb RSL Day Club at Figtree, which runs weekly activities for the elderly at the Orb Bowling Club.
‘‘I love it. The people we have are frail, housebound, aged people and it just gives them something to look forward to every week,’’ she said.
Keiraville’s Dorothy Abberton was Highly Commended Senior Volunteer and Illawarra In-Home Support Volunteers was named Illawarra Volunteer Team of the Year. Kay Godfrey, Carmel Martin, Rich
ard Ross, Greek Independent Day Care and Warrawong Community Kitchen were also recognised.
The Illawarra winners are eligible for the NSW awards, to be held on December 5.