Celebrating our volunteers this National Volunteers Week

What does 26,500 hours of donated time look like?

The answer can be seen in the ongoing success of CBM Australia’s work – as that is the number of hours generously donated to the organisation by volunteers between January and December 2019.

“In monetary terms, the hard work and dedication of our volunteers save CBM Australia an awful lot,” says Sue Reid, who along with colleague Elizabeth Churchward coordinates volunteers at CBM Australia.

“We support each department of the organisation to ensure staff can focus on their normal jobs, and we assist with jobs and tasks wherever we can to make sure staff spend their time as efficiently as possible.”

Sue, who has been with CBM Australia for 17 years, has coordinated hundreds of volunteers during her time. On average, there are around 70 volunteers in any given year, with 73 registered at the moment.

Ahead of National Volunteer Week (May 18 to 24), an annual celebration of the valuable contribution made by volunteers across the country, Sue says that CBM Australia’s volunteers come from all walks of life.

“We get lots of people through word-of-mouth, who have heard about our work through friends and family. We also get people who may have supported us financially before but their circumstances may have changed, and lot of people who are interested in volunteering more generally, and are keen to do anything and everything.

“Our volunteers range in age from school students who may spend time with us as part of their work experience, to university students through to older retired people who enjoy the social interaction of volunteering and often make longer-term friends.”

CBM Australia has a number of longer-term volunteers, including two active volunteers who have been with the organisation for more than 20 years each, and Sue says the average volunteer tenure is around five years.

Volunteers predominately assist with administrative tasks, including mailing fundraising receipts, data processing and analysis and transcribing audio-visual content from meetings in the field.

The success of CBM’s annual Miracles Day, held each August to raise funds to restore sight for children and adults in some of the poorest parts of the world, is also underpinned by volunteers.

“We generally work from around 5am to 10pm on Miracles Day, providing food including morning tea and afternoon tea for people taking donations and others involved in the day. Last year we fed up to 80 people – we cater food and prepare food ourselves.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work practices around the world, including at CBM Australia.

“We are trying to keep in touch with everyone via the phone, to understand how people are going. In the office we usually have prayer time on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we have been sending people lists of prayers at home so they can keep connected.

“What I would say to our volunteers at the moment is that we always love and appreciate their hard work and enthusiasm, we are missing them and we look forward to seeing them again soon”.

Learn more about the work of CBM Australia’s dedicated volunteers.