Dr Butterworth was speaking at the Amaroo Volunteer Appreciation Lunch and awards ceremony during National Volunteer Week.
The lunch was attended by 120 people who regularly help at the retirement village and aged-care facility.
Dr Butterworth has volunteered for 56 years, most recently with the National Council of Women and the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education, work that has taken her to Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea and China.
‘Our major institutions such as fire and emergency services, hospitals, schools and aged-care facilities would not function as effectively without the contributions of volunteers,’ Dr Butterworth said.
‘Other civil societies, professional associations, social and amateur sporting clubs wouldn’t function at all.’
Dr Butterworth said volunteers also benefited, wearing an ‘inner glow’ from brightening another person’s day.
She said helping others gave people a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life, kept the mind and body active and staved off boredom and loneliness.
‘When carried out at the global level, volunteering extends one’s horizons and develops our understanding of other cultures and other ways of doing things, which ultimately builds tolerance and world peace,’ she said.
Amaroo board president Norm Smith said volunteers possessed generosity, understanding, empathy, compassion, patience and dedication, qualities that were abundant in the people gathered to celebrate the day.