As her good friend remarked, Cr Carol James prefers not to be the centre of attention.
But that's exactly where she was on Tuesday, October 24 when Goulburn Mulwaree Council honoured her with a civic reception.
The event recognised her Order of Australia medal awarded in June's King's Birthday honours for service to the Goulburn Mulwaree community.
Cr James received her award at Government House, Canberra, on September 13 but on Tuesday, Mayor Peter Walker and scores of guests added to the plaudits.
He described his colleague as a tireless worker in the community, whether on the council, driving the Street Van helping the homeless, through Scouts, the Suicide Prevention network, the Community Drug Action Team, Goulburn Rotary, as president of the Lilac Festival committee or the many other causes in which she was involved.
"You show true leadership and a deep love of the city and it is with deep pride we celebrate Carol as an OAM recipient," Cr Walker said.
Youth Council mayor, Holly Caffery agreed. She said Cr James' humility and volunteerism for others' benefit stood out.
"Carol is incredibly kind and generous and is always willing to support us," she said.
"...She is a role model who has inspired so many of us to reach out of our comfort zones and try something new. Carol has emphasised the value of volunteering and that's something we'll carry with us."
Another speaker, Goulburn Rotary president, Steve Ruddell, said Cr James had been a member of the organisation for more than 30 years. She was the first female president and held various board positions. In addition, Cr James had been an assistant governor for the region and was heavily involved in youth programs and international projects helping developing countries.
Senior Constable Lou Raymond met Ms James some 20 years ago and grew to become a close friend during cooperation on numerous community initiatives.
"The Carol I know has the absolute strongest sense of integrity and consideration and is the most genuine person I've ever known," she said.
"...She never judges anyone...Everyone from all walks of life is welcome as far as Carol is concerned. There's an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child and that's the approach Carol has to the whole community.
"...I consider Carol a jewel in the crown for Goulburn and I have the utmost respect for her."
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"Carol's leadership of the team is something we're grateful for every day and she constantly inspires us with her generosity and community spirit," Mrs Lang said.
"Carol sees the good in everyone and shows this within the organisations with which she's involved...She is kind, caring, thoughtful and professional and a great role model to each of us in the office."
Cr James told the crowd she enjoyed helping others.
"I experienced kindness in my life at a very young age," she said.
When she was eight, flood hit the family's Eastgrove home and neighbours helped evacuate them and assist them afterwards. At age 10, her father, Harry Gillette, was killed in an accident at Big Hill. She recalled the Salvation Army taking her and her sister to weekend camps and other people who extended kindness.
As a teenager, "disobeying the rules," the late Ange Zantis had employed her in his jewellery store and "shown the importance of mindset."
"People have been very generous to me and they've given me opportunity. I've been able to do many things with those opportunities," Cr Carol said.
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She recounted that much of her community involvement resulted from "chance." The Street Van and the Community Drug Action Team started after former Goulburn City mayor Margaret O'Neill called a meeting about the city's "heroin problem. In turn, ice forums and WHOS drug rehabilitation centre had resulted.
In addition, when Cr James discovered a young boy who'd taken his life, she initiated the Suicide Prevention Network.
But she said none of it had been possible without assistance and thanked those who had helped, including her office staff.
"There's still a lot to do...but if we all do a little, we can achieve a lot," Cr James said.
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