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Lifelong volunteer gives decades of community service

Chinchilla local Sylvia Hanrahan is just one of the many Western Downs residents being celebrated this National Volunteer Week.

Sylvia Hanrahan has been one of the friendly faces at the Chinchilla Visitor Information Centre for the past two years, although she has volunteered for most of her life.

Within a few weeks of moving to Chinchilla, Sylvia started looking for somewhere to volunteer.

“I asked a few charities around town but they already had enough volunteers, so I went to get some information at the Visitor Information Centre (VIC), and have been volunteering there ever since,” she said.

“I’ve volunteered at charities such as Vinnies, an aged care home, even a museum on Bribie Island, before moving to Chinchilla and joining the team at the VIC.

“I was brought up with the belief that when you were able to, it was important to take the time to give back to your own community in some way.

“In my early 20s with two young children, I became one of the very first drivers for Meals on Wheels when it was just starting up.

“You never know when, or if, you may be in need of assistance yourself, so I believe that you always give when and while you can.”

Sylvia’s personal volunteer highlights include being able to meet people from all over the world.

“It’s a great way to get out and about when you’re new to a district, to also find out what is happening around your own community,” she said.

“Volunteering has helped me to form new friendships, I really look forward to seeing the other ladies each week.”

Sylvia says she likes the way the Chinchilla Visitor Information Centre has grown to be more welcoming as people come in the door.

“We now have quite a lovely range of items that we stock, almost all of which have been made by someone in the region – you can’t get more local than that!”

Western Downs Regional Council Spokesperson for Communities and Cultural Development Councillor Kaye Maguire said that this year marks the 30th National Volunteer week.

“This year’s theme is Making a World of Difference, which highlights the significant impact that volunteers make within our communities.

“National Volunteer Week was established in the late 80’s to promote volunteering across the whole country.

“Nowdays we take the time to acknowledge the millions of volunteers who actively contribute to modern society.”

There are around 714,000 volunteers in Queensland, with the Western Downs having a higher than average number of volunteers between the ages of 25-54.

Over 25% of residents across the Western Downs actively volunteer.

Morning teas will be held around the Western Downs region in late May to celebrate volunteer’s week, where all Western Downs Regional Council volunteers will receive an official Volunteering Queensland badge.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering is welcome to contact Council on 1300 COUNCIL.

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Media Contact:

Melanie Coultas | Senior Media & Communications Officer | 0419 048 594