Just in time for National Volunteer Week, falling on the 17th to 23rd May, Federal Member for Bonner Ross Vasta MP has celebrated Bonner volunteers at his annual Bonner Volunteer Awards, which recognises outstanding local volunteers and volunteer groups in the Bonner electorate.
Mr Vasta held a dedicated ceremony on Wednesday 5th May to congratulate the 16 local nominees as well as announcing the overall winners and presenting them with their awards.
“At the heart of Bonner, are the individuals of all ages and groups which make up our fantastic community. Having the opportunity to recognise those who are often the unsung heroes in making a difference is a privilege.”
“These awards give thanks to the individuals and groups that have demonstrated outstanding volunteer qualities. They form part of the backbone of our community and make significant and lasting contributions.”
Category winners for the 2021 Bonner Volunteer Awards include:
SENIOR: Janette Taylor (Carina Heights)- Janette has been a member of Quota Carindale since 1995 and during this time has served as Board Member and a President.
Whenever Janette hears of anything in the local community where she believes Quota Carindale could assist, she goes above and beyond to put a solution in place.
After the devastating 2011 to 2012 floods and as part of her work with Quota Carindale, Janette visited and provided support to the small town of Condamine which had been evacuated.
For many years Janette has also been a home-stay parent for international students both at university and high school.
ADULT : Steven and Toni-Noon Heymer (Belmont)- Steven and Toni the founders of the annual Belmont Santa Studio.
For the last 11 years they have done incredible work in spreading the Christmas spirit all over Brisbane by arranging Santa photos for families with special needs.
Many of these children are unable to visit shopping centres or other public venues and this is where Steve and Toni saw a need.
Belmont Santa Studio Co-Founder Steven Heymer said, “It is nice to get an award like this, but it isn’t what we do it for. For us, our focus is on the kids, the families and being able to give back.”
“We started this because our 12-year-old daughter is on the autism spectrum and we wondered how many other families are going through what we’re going through,” said Mr Heymer.
“We have watched these families grow up over the last 11 years, coming back every year. Now some are bringing back kids of their own. It’s quite touching to see them growing up.”
YOUNG ADULT: Caitlyn Robinson (Mansfield)- Caitlyn is an amazing 19-year-old who is committed to making a difference to young women both in her community as well as the rest of the world through Girls Brigade.
Through her passion for advocacy and social justice, Caitlyn was selected to represent Girls Brigade’s Pacific Fellowship and present at the UNs Commission on the Status of Women in New York last year.
Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, she was unable to attend in person. However, in March this year Caitlyn was able to present to a global audience through an online platform.
She is bringing her experience on shore by organising speaking tours with the UNs Australian Youth Representative.
Caitlyn is doing all this while studying a dual degree in Nursing and Psychology, serving in her local Girls’ Brigade Company, and running her own charity shop – Cait’s Charity Cards.
STUDENT: Anisha Verma (Mansfield)- Anisha graduated from Mansfield State High School last year where she completed an incredible 3000 minutes of volunteering.
At 17 years of age and currently also balancing University studies, her passion for volunteering is unwavering.
ENVIRONMENT: Queensland Koala Society (Carina Heights): Angela Christodoulou founded the society in 2018 as a not for profit volunteer group dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of Koalas and other native wildlife in the Southeast Brisbane area.
The Queensland Koala Society would like to become the first organisation in the Brisbane area that can provide all the needs for koalas, including other native wildlife that includes rescue, rehabilitation, development and release within their local environment.
GROUP/ORGANISATION: Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s Boatshed Crew (Manly)- The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron’s Boatshed Crew are group of volunteers who work tirelessly around the club to maintain the volunteer vessels and facilities.
This dedicated group of volunteers meet twice per week to make sure the volunteer racing fleet of 14 support boats are maintained to the highest of standards.
During the racing season, these members are also seen at the Yacht Squadron on the weekend, either assisting with race management, mentoring new volunteers, or turning their hands to the next maintenance project.
They do great work in caring for one of Queensland’s oldest and most prestigious recreational sailing and cruising clubs.
“I was truly overwhelmed by the stories of every person and group who was nominated or won this year. All should be proud of this achievement and I would like to personally extend my thanks for the positive difference they’re making in our local community and inspiring others to volunteer,” Mr Vasta said.