WORDS BY LARINE STATHAM-BLAIR
Philanthropy, fundraising and volunteering. These things are in no way glamorous, but they are the glue that holds our community together. They are the dependable gestures of quiet achievers.
They are a hot meal in the belly of someone sleeping rough. They are the rhythmic toe tap of the lonely, non-communicative aged care resident, who loved singing and dancing in their prime. They are the referee whistle that’s been blown every weekend for decades to keep generations of youngsters fit and healthy. They are the CPR dummies that teach first aid students how to safely perform chest compressions. They are the rewards offered by Crime Stoppers.
The Bundaberg Region has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country, and the highest rate of disability in Queensland. We also have an older than average population. And yet, remarkably, in 2020 the crowdfunding website GoFundMe crowned Bundaberg the most generous town in Australia.
A University of South Australia study in 2012 estimated the monetary value of volunteering in Australia to be more than $200 billion per year. The figure is believed to have exploded since then, with the retirement of baby boomers, but the benefits aren’t just economic. The study found volunteering gives people a sense of purpose, teaches them skills, gives them a social outlet, often leads to employment, and helps reduce crime rates in some communities.
There are countless not-for-profit organisations, including some government bodies, that would cease to exist without volunteers and donations to keep them afloat. That’s, in part, why the Federal Government requires welfare recipients over the age of 55 to perform up to 30 hours of voluntary work per fortnight, and provides volunteer grants each year to support and increase volunteer participation in regional communities.
Many local community leaders are concerned about the age of our volunteers. People are living longer and the age of retirement has increased, leaving a void for younger generations to fill. They worry that those below the age of 60 do not possess same sense of civic duty or community conscience. While that may be true in some cases, the vast majority are unable to volunteer for hours each day because they are busy working or raising young families. Instead, they perform seemingly tiny tasks for the greater good and donate funds to causes they feel strongly about. They understand many hands make light work and will roll up their sleeves when their time comes. They will follow the example set by their parents and grandparents.
Researching this piece, Crush Magazine fell down a deep rabbit hole where it is just not possible for us to mention every volunteer, donor, philanthropist, charity or business that is doing amazing things. In fact, many are so humble, they don’t want any fuss and would rather you didn’t know.
If there’s one thing you should take away from this Goodwill Issue of Crush Magazine, it’s that our community is kind. Plain and simple.
We recently asked Crush Magazine’s social media followers to nominate their favourite volunteers, as well as local community groups and philanthropic organisations (special thanks to Judy Peters). Here they are, in no particular order:
- Ten Dollar Dreamers
- Volunteer Marine Rescue
- Mary Walsh – Endeavour Foundation
- Leone Wilson – Bundaberg District Women Veterans
- Betty Wallace – Bundaberg Netball
- Desley Cunnington – Bundaberg Local Ambulance Committee
- Marilyn Batty – Bundaberg Art Society
- Gail Zunker – Bundaberg Community Service Group
- Gin Gin Courthouse Gallery volunteers
- Kate Frawley – Misspent Ukes
- Bundaberg and District Meals
- Friends of the Library
- Russell Cobb – Christ Church bell ringers and Andy’s Kitchen
- Shirley Holden – Bundaberg
- Nigel Dick – Bundaberg Playhouse Theatre
- Mud Army and Mud Navy – Bundaberg floods of 2013
- Mon Repos turtle volunteers
- Bundaberg Region Tourist Information Centre volunteers
- Jim Anderson – Bundaberg Lions Club
- Noel Stitt – Across the Waves
- Jim Deem – Bundaberg Cricket
- Queensland Rural Fire Brigade
- Shirley and Stuart Buchanan –
Bustard Head Lighthouse
- John Nicholson – Discovery Coast Sport and Recreation Association
Crush Magazine Writer Ryan Pearce explains what it’s like to be on the receiving end of goodwill.
Selflessness, to use the dictionary definition, is a lack of preoccupation with one’s own interests, and an attentiveness to those of others. For years, I thought I understood what it meant to be selfless. That was until a life-changing event truly opened my eyes.
It was October 25, 2015. Our daughter Mia’s second birthday, spent with family and friends. We would never have thought that in a few short days, our lives would change forever. We’ll never forget the words: “Mr and Mrs Pearce; we believe Mia has leukemia. We need to get you to Brisbane as soon as possible”.
I found out quickly that when your child is diagnosed with cancer, along with dealing with the shock and emotional trauma, you are also overloaded with information. It’s a tidal wave of new scientific jargon. Medications, diagnostics, treatments and blood products become part of your everyday vocabulary.
We met outstanding doctors and nurses. But there is one very special group of people who largely go unnoticed: blood donors.
Mia’s treatment for leukemia was intense. She required daily chemotherapy, both oral and intravenous, and she also required blood transfusions. Lots of blood transfusions. Bag after bag of red blood and platelets were brought into the room and hooked up to Mia. It seemed to be never ending.
I would often wonder who donated this blood. Did I walk past the donor in the street? Did I chat to them at the cafe? I just wanted to hug them. I wanted a face and name to thank. This is not hyperbole. These unknown donors are a big part of the reason Mia is still here with us.
Inspired by her journey, in conjunction with the Bundaberg Blood Donor Centre, we created the blood donation squad, Team Mia Laveau, in 2016. The hope was to encourage Mia’s friends, family and supporters to donate blood and help other families like ours. We are proud to say we successfully raised awareness of the issue. Many of the team members who donated for the first time are now regulars at the blood bank.
Although Mia no longer requires blood transfusions, donors are always desperately needed. We never realised how vital blood donation is, until we were thrown into it ourselves. To go out of your way to offer something that saves people’s lives, and receive little recognition or reward for it, is the ultimate definition of selflessness. If you can donate, please do.
I guarantee you’ll be someone’s hero.