EACH year, VolunteeringWA honours the everyday heroes among us who go above and beyond in the service of others.
This year the organisation has recognised six people and two companies for their service to the state.
The full list of winners and their stories is below:
The WA Volunteer of the Year Award
Ken Blackie – DFES/Whitfords Marine Rescue
Ken Blackie is a founding member of the Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue Group and has been fundamental to the growth of the group from a small group of local people in 1972 using their own boats to a group of 120 highly trained volunteers providing a 24-hour, 365-days-a-year service to the community that helps people in distress on the water.
Ken is also a volunteer skipper and has been involved in countless rescues, recoveries, missing boat/people searches, boat assistance calls, capsizes and transfer of people in distress to areas of safety.
The WA Youth Volunteer of the Year Award
Paul Garlett – Australian Red Cross
Paul has been a volunteer youth worker at Australian Red Cross for two years delivering FoodREDI workshops to his local community and passionately helping with most facets of day-to-day operations.
He has also coached netball for eight years and volunteers at Beatball, a local basketball tournament in partnership with Noongar Sport, City of Kwinana and Redcross which attracts over 100 young people each Friday night. On top of this, he also couches young girls netball and is an influential mentor to the youth in his local community.
The WA Lifetime Contribution to Volunteering Award
Beth Smith – A Strong Heart for the Pilbara Town of Roebourne
For the past 40 years Beth Smith has volunteered in various roles around Roebourne in Northwest WA.
For the past two years Beth has volunteered every day to run the Roebourne District High School Canteen making sure that each child is provided with a healthy morning tea and lunch and that no child goes without. She also mentors and trains local women to work in the canteen.
In 1986 Beth, along with her husband Marshall, set up Mingullatharndo Community (5Mile) 10km outside of Roebourne, which is a drug, alcohol and violence free community that is self-managed by herself and Marshall. Beth drives the community’s children into the town every day so they can attend school. She has also spent 20 years volunteering at the Pilbara Aboriginal Church.
The WA Volunteer for Multicultural Communities Award
Mario Matassa – Chorus
Mario Matassa is a valued volunteer at the Chorus Multicultural Activity Centre in Bull Creek where he runs the kitchen and advocates for attendees to have a healthy eating lifestyle while remaining active.
Mario has been a committee member of the Association Nazionale Famiglie degli Emigrati (ANFE) for the past 15 years which caters for the elder members of the Italian Community in and around Fremantle by providing outings, trips and social gatherings.
He also uses his accountancy background to help non-English speaking people to prepare their tax returns.
The WA Volunteer Excellence in Volunteer Management Awards
Nicole Woods – DFES and Gin Gin Fire and Rescue Service
Nicole has been a volunteer with the Gingin Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service since 2008.
In July 2012, Nikki was elected captain and now has a strong focus on younger members who have the aspiration and drive to progress in the Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
She introduced social media to the Brigade to assist in recruitment of younger members and a training and mentoring programme to develop member’s capabilities.
By growing the numbers to 19 active members, she has helped to secure the future of this vital emergency service for the Gingin community and all people who visit or drive through the community.
The WA Corporate Volunteer of the Year Award
Chevron Australia has been partnering with United Way WA on corporate volunteering and workplace giving programs since 2009.
In 2017, Chevron Australia’s employees logged an impressive 3,247 volunteer hours across Western Australia – during both personal and work time and more than 250 individual supporting more than 35 projects across the State.
In Onslow, the company’s residential employees and their family members contributed more than 1700 hours to help the local community.
The WA Community Volunteer Organisation of the Year Award
The EdConnect program supports children and young people from kindergarten, to senior school through the support of a one on one mentoring program.
This programme gives young West Australians the assistance they need to develop vital life skills, stay engaged in their education and have the best chance to realise their potential.
With over 900 volunteers working in over 150 schools in the Metro, South West and Pilbara regions, EdConnect supports over 800 students one to one, in a mentoring relationship, and just under 10,000 students having access to extra support in classrooms
The WA People’s Choice ‘Spirit of Volunteering’ Award
Ruby has consistently volunteered weekly at AQWA for over 24 years taking little more than a few months off.
Ruby participates in the children’s activities at AQWA such as badge making craft and educates them about the marine environment and how important it is to preserve it.
As an ex-teacher, Ruby’s passion is to pass on the information she has gained over the years in regards to ocean conservation and to open people’s minds to the wonders of the ocean.
Ruby believes in providing people with little tips on how to actively save endangered species such as simply keeping our waterways clean. Often it is difficult to know when a visitor wants information or not and where their current level of understanding is but Ruby’s non-threatening, gentle nature means there are very few people who won’t take up a conversation with her and learn why protecting our environment is important.
Ruby has volunteered all over the world including as a teacher in the Marshall Islands with Australian Volunteers International.
She also volunteers weekly at the Airport assisting people with directions and check-in procedures.