TO celebrate National Volunteer Week (May 9-15), the Country Education Foundation (CEF) recognised the work of long-standing rural and regional volunteers.
The Country Education Foundation is a national not-for-profit organisation working to provide disadvantaged rural and regional students with further education, training and career opportunities.
For the first time, they issued awards for long service to committee members, past and present, who have or had volunteered locally for 10 or more years.
The CEF also recognised the outstanding commitment of four volunteers with the launch of the inaugural Katie Walker Outstanding Service Awards.
Braidwood’s Trish Solomon was among the first recipients of the Katie Walker Outstanding Service Award.
For Ms Solomon, it all started in September 2005 when the Braidwood and District Education Foundation was looking for a committee secretary.
Martin Pitt had heard on the grapevine that Ms Solomon was good at administration.
He assured her that all she had to do was take the meeting minutes once a month.
She was given one A4 sheet of paper headed ‘Critical Dates Checklist’ with two columns, ‘Tasks’ and ‘Completion due date’.
It all seemed very simple.
“The great thing about the Braidwood committee is that each member has a specific task.
This works very well until there is a change in committee,” Ms Solomon said.
Between 2005 and 2011, there were a number of changes and it was at this time that Ms Solomon took on responsibilities of advertising, recipient applications, interviews, sending out the Foundation’s information package outlining expectations and recipient responsibilities, the presentation night, money claims, and liaison with recipients and their parents.
Ms Solomon is still the person the committee defer to for information and direction when it comes to meetings, the AGM and their responsibilities as a Foundation.
In 2011, with a number of new members keen to contribute, the committee reviewed the secretary’s ‘task list.’
It was estimated that Trish did about 80 per cent of the administrative work.
With a little reorganisation and reallocation, others took on the role of recipient applications and interviews.
This certainly relieved Ms Solomon’s pressure and workload.
“In 2016 BDEF has a committee that works together exceptionally well to achieve its goals,” Ms Solomon said.
“The role of secretary will always have a substantial administrative responsibility, particularly as the CEF continues to expand its functions and therefore the reporting required by the individual foundations increases.”
Ms Solomon’s commitment shows her passion for making a difference to the lives of young people in the Braidwood district, and she is happy to use her administrative skills to ensure the BDEF continues to operate efficiently.
Katie Walker, who is a founding member and board director of the Country Education Foundation and its local branch in Yass, said volunteers were the organisation’s backbone.
“The Country Education Foundation has hundreds of dedicated volunteers who all work tirelessly to raise funds for the further education and training of rural and regional school leavers,” Ms Walker said.
“Recognising the enormous contributions of some of those volunteers is not hard at all. I am honoured to announce four outstanding service awards for 2016.”
The other award recipients were: Patricia Jacka (Clare Valley, SA); Trish McKenzie (Paroo, Queensland); and Ginny Taylor (Coonamble, NSW).
“These four outstanding volunteers set a fine example of how giving back to your local community can foster bright futures for the next generation,” Ms Walker said.
Country Education Foundation chief executive Sarah Taylor said National Volunteer Week reminded people to be thankful for those who contribute time and resources without asking in return.
“Country Education Foundation volunteers are instrumental in making sure disadvantaged country kids get the opportunity to go on to uni or further training,” Ms Taylor said.