A leader with state-wide responsibilities by day and a grassroots community volunteer by night has been acknowledged for her efforts.
Volunteers from throughout the region were recently recognised at the Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards presentation at Wollongong Golf Club.
The top award went to Beverley Kerr, who received both the Senior 2017 Illawarra Region Volunteer of the Year Award and the overall regional winner’s award for her work with the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Corrimal resident Mrs Kerr, 71, volunteers tirelessly, often seven days a week.
She works with people experiencing homelessness or other disadvantage due to domestic violence, gambling, mental health or because they are refugees.
Before retiring and commencing her volunteer role with the Society in 2001, she worked for the Department of Community Services.
“My work in DOCS, my last 20 years was in community services, so I suppose I’ve just transferred that work to the work I do now, (with the) homeless, people with disabilities, children at risk, families at risk of homelessness,” she said.
“The most rewarding (aspect) is helping people – giving them a hand up, not a handout.”
Currently vice-president of St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, she also serves as vice-president of the NSW State Council and president of Matthew Talbot Homeless Support Services.
“I travel the state, to places as far as Broken Hill, Albury, Port Macquarie,” she said.
Mrs Kerr has championed large poverty-targeted projects with the Society, such as the design and revitalisation of Freeman House in Armidale, to provide residential and community-based programs for adults experiencing homelessness and/or addiction.
Mrs Kerr is a mother of seven, and also has 20 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
She has also maintained a relationship with Vinnies’ grassroots level, being active in the Corrimal community as a local volunteer with the Society.
“I don’t get much of a chance to be with the Corrimal conference because I’m so busy with the state-wide responsibilities,” she said.
“But I enjoy participating there when I can.”
Twenty regional Volunteer of the Year Award ceremonies take place throughout NSW.
All regional winners are in the running for the overall NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, which will be announced at a gala event in Sydney in December.