Trundle Branch President and Branch Life Member Jo, tells us a little bit about what being a member of one of our most active Branches means to her, and her local community.
Why did you decide to join the Trundle Branch?
About 10 years ago, the Trundle Branch had closed for a couple of years, there just hadn’t been enough volunteers to keep it running. I had been working in a local school with children in years K/1/2 [and I saw] how big the need was for developmental services – there was a huge number of kids who needed intervention. In this community, which only has a population of about 300, getting help is really hard. I’d had the same problems getting orthodontic help for my own daughter. The Branch was just reopening – a few of the ladies were trying to get it back up and running because they knew the need was so big, and they were looking for volunteers so I decided it would be the best way to help the community get better access to treatment.
Tell us about what’s involved in your role
As Branch President, I’m responsible for guiding the Branch in the right direction and overseeing finances and the Branch activities. We’re a very small but very active Branch. We’ve got twelve members and I’m the youngest by a number of years, but the members constantly inspire me with the work they put in. We have so many fundraising activities and the energy they give is just awesome. A couple of the ladies have been volunteering with the Branch for over 60 years. One of the ladies is 80, and she grew up on a property nearby and accessed Royal Far West services as a kid. She got involved when she was young and has been helping out ever since!
What impact do RFW services have on your local community?
Oh, it has a major impact – I can’t tell you how important it is. Working in the school, I would see so many kids who struggled to be understood. They would be nervous or totally avoid talking to people one-on-one, it really affected their confidence. I was involved in the pilot Come N See Program, the very first version of Telecare for Kids, almost 10 years ago. I supervised it in the school, and the difference it made for the kids was huge. After going through the program, they would stand up and talk in front of the class and really get involved. Their confidence increased so much, and it had a big effect on the whole school. It really made me think about how important it was to make sure these services were getting through – not just our community, but all over.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time with the Branch?
It has to be coming to the Branch conference in Manly a couple of years ago. We brought one of the Branch Members with us, a lady who was 75, but had never been to the city. She thoroughly enjoyed it, and seeing her walk along the beach for the first time is something I’ll never forget. I actually grew up in Sydney, so it was quite profound realising that people hadn’t seen that.
What is it that keeps you so passionately volunteering?
It’s two things really. Seeing what a difference Royal Far West services makes to those who access the programs is of course inspiring, but it’s also working with the ladies who make up the Branch. They are really inspiring with the work and enthusiasm they put into all the events and keeping the Op-Shop running. It’s a lot of work, but we have a great time. We’ve developed some wonderful friendships, and everyone always backs each other up. It’s a lovely thing to have in the town.
You mentioned the Op-Shop, what role does that play in your community?
Oh, it’s a big thing in the community. It’s a hub. Some people in the community are doing it tough, so it’s a place for people to buy affordable clothes and bits and pieces. But it’s not just about buying stuff, people sometimes they just want to come in and chat and have a coffee. It’s also a centre for people to come, we often have stalls and raffles and other things happening, so people come for that. During COVID when the shop closed and the activities had to stop, the ladies missed it terribly. It meant they didn’t have that contact or the regular chats which it provides.
Pic: Jo (centre) wins the NSW Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019.