HENLEY Brook resident Michelle Dunlop has been named as a finalist in the Volunteer of the Year Awards.
Ms Dunlop, who has been involved in volunteer work for most of her life, is one of 10 volunteers vying for the People’s Choice Award next month.
She said she was born with a strong social conscience and a desire to improve the lives of people suffering.
Ms Dunlop was nominated for her volunteer work in three areas, including her work as co-founder of not-|for-profit organisation The Grief Centre, which offers free support and counselling to people experiencing grief.
She was also recognised for her work with Perth’s most disadvantaged after starting Street Friends nine years ago, a group of volunteers who serve food and clothing every Thursday to homeless people in the CBD.
In her spare time she also helps and supports refugees and asylum seekers with visas and immigration.
Ms Dunlop said she was honoured to be a finalist and was inspired by fellow nominees.
“I love volunteering,” she said.
“Every day I’m doing something I know will help someone else. I have seen the difference it can make and it inspires me to keep going.
“The whole community benefits from volunteer work and if more people did it, it would create a healthier and kinder world.”
Ms Dunlop said it was thanks to people in the community for donations and other volunteers that Street Friends was able to continue.
“We serve food to around 150 people each week,” she said.
“We work under bad conditions, with poor lighting and no shelter, so in winter it can be quite hard, but we turn up every week.
“I hope that if I do win this award I can use the money to buy a generator so we have light.”
Ms Dunlop said often the cycle of homelessness stemmed from grief and broken lives.
“Nobody chooses a life of homelessness,” she said.
“I hope these awards will improve awareness of the need for more funding into homelessness and the work that is being done by volunteers to help disadvantaged people in WA.”
She said it was great that WA volunteers were being recognised in the awards.
“We’re just a drop in the bucket and this award pays tribute and respect to thousands of people giving their time and making a difference,” she said,
The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be announced on May 10.
To vote for Ms Dunlop, visit https://awards.volunteeringwa.org.au/peoples-choice.
Voting closes on April 30.