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Volunteers honoured at annual awards

22 May, 2023

Local change makers were recognised at the annual Volunteer of the Year awards which rounded out National Volunteer Week.

National Volunteer Week recognises the extraordinary volunteers who have made a significant difference in the Wodonga community.

The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week is "the change makers," an apt description of volunteers, who make a significant impact in our community, giving their time and energy to affect change and make Albury Wodonga a better place. 

The awards will recognise volunteers in the categories of individual, team and the Two Cities One Community award. 

Wendy Cooksey was the Bryan Watson Wodonga Individual Volunteer of the Year, the award recognising an outstanding volunteer as the Wodonga Individual Volunteer of the Year. 

Since 1996, Wendy has been secretary for the Wodonga Family Historical Society out of the old Wodonga Library and now the new Hyphen Wodonga Library Gallery. 

Wendy has played a significant role in encouraging and educating community members to discover their family histories.

She has always gone out of her way to assist the group in various community engagement activities such as Seniors Week, fundraising sausage sizzles, workshops and street stalls. 

The Bryan Watson award includes a $1000 donation to the Wendy's chosen charity, the funds donated  by the Belvoir Rotary Club.

The Wodonga Team of the Year, an acknowledgement of an exceptional and effective group of volunteers,  was Birallee Park Neighbourhood House.

Already this year, the volunteers at Birallee Park Neighbourhood House have cooked more than 7000 meals through their Community Kitchen Program for residents who were vulnerable, isolated, or unable to afford to buy food. 

The dedicated team of volunteers also assist with community outreach, domestic violence support, and a range of community workshops.

Albury Wodonga Multicultural Community Events was awarded the Two Cities One Community Volunteer honour, which acknowledges an exceptional individual or team for the contribution to the broader Albury and Wodonga community, 

Albury Wodonga Multicultural Community Events is a cross-border not-for-profit organisation which aims to empower emerging migrant communities, showcase multicultural talent and support refugee communities through difficult times. 

The group was originally established by a group of local young Bhutanese refugee residents who wanted to help foster social inclusion in the community by helping bring together migrants, international students and the broader community through entertainment events, such as live concerts, movie nights, and cultural celebrations. 

The group’s volunteers have responded to community challenges such as mental illness and suicide, as well as responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that the emergency response reaches vulnerable migrant and refugee community.  

They distributed meals as well as assisted community members to access vaccinations and testing. 

The Wodonga and Albury Mayors also awarded the special Mayoral award, bestowing it on another team – the Australian Army Cadets 37 Unit.

The Australian Army Cadets 37 Unit is a youth development organisation based in Bandiana which models the character and values of the Australian Army. 

It teaches young people the values of friendship, self-discipline, respect and a spirit of adventure.

Through the support of the Australian Army and a team of adult volunteers from across our community, the cadets are regular contributors to community and fundraising events, including ANZAC Day marches, the Best Border Easter Egg Hunt, Vietnam Veterans Day, National Servicemen’s Day and Relay for Life, to name but a few. 

Also on the night, Wodonga Council volunteers Bette Cawood, Pamela Stevens and David Stevens who have undertaken 10 years of formal volunteer service were presented with years of service certificates.

Full list of nominees across the 2023 awards 

o    Jason Raine
o    Nick May
o    Allen Lechmere
o    Kim Radnell
o    Michael Clear
o    John Oswald
o    Wendy Cooksey
o    Raymond Lucas
o    Roderick Allen
o    Vanessa Flanagan
o    John Hawker
o    Birallee Park Neighbourhood House
o    Gateway Lake Users Group Wodonga
o    Albury Wodonga Multicultural Events
o    Australian Army Cadets 37 Unit
o    Omnia Inclusive
o    Wodonga Family History Society Inc.
o    Albury Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau - Homework Help Program
o    Wodonga Hockey Club

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