It started as a simple idea to say ‘thank you’ to those who volunteer and support volunteering in our community, and so the University’s International Office joined with the Community Engagement Office to plan an evening where we could come together and let our volunteers know how much we value the work they do.
The event had a ‘party’ feel – this was a celebration after all – with lollies on the tables as a take-home gift, balloons, a thank you cake and DIY chatterbox templates to encourage guests to have fun together.
Jack Dawson, a newly graduated student, provided the perfect guitar solo entertainment to start the night.
Vice-Chancellor Caroline McMillen spoke about the huge role volunteering plays in our region, citing statistics indicating that there are 100,000 volunteers in the Hunter region alone.
Simon Watts, Senior Manager Volunteering, Office of Communities, showed the passion he brings to his role when he said, “I’ve got one of the best jobs in NSW. I get to promote volunteering.”
UoN student Mohammed Ehsan Ebrahim, who was this year named as New South Wales Higher Education International Student of the Year spoke about his own experiences as a student volunteer and finished by reading The Diversity Creed. The celebration closed with entertainment from a local Greek duo who had everyone tapping their toes until it was time to head home.
Some of the comments from our guests included:
“It was great to hear the stories of the other volunteers and to recognise the dramatic positive effect volunteering has in the wider community.”
“We should be thanking you for putting on such a fun night! It really made people feel like their work is being appreciated.”
“It has also given me the desire to get back into volunteering and I will be looking into volunteer options over the next few weeks.”
“It’s great to see so much support and kindness from the local community to help the university and fellow community members.”
“It was a fun informal event and I loved the retro party theme, especially the lollies.”
“It was so inspiring to see and meet other volunteers, sharing stories and good spirit.”
“The event was remarkable: fantastic venue, such warm and heart filled welcome from Kikki from the Community Connections, and very touching speeches from the VC Professor McMillen and other organisers. I felt very much appreciated and filled with pride to be a part of such a great community.”
“We felt special and encouraged to continue in giving and sharing. Best of all it was good to catch up with everyone and make new contacts.”
The Volunteer Recognition Dinner was organised to align with National Student Volunteer Week, a nationwide initiative presented by Volunteering Qld, dedicated to recognising and supporting student volunteering in Australia.
The University of Newcastle is proud to partner with a wide range of community organisations in a variety of volunteering activities. We are also incredibly fortunate to be in partnership with individuals and organisations who give of their time freely to work with the University. Finally, we take great pride in the students and staff from our University who make a real difference in our community through their volunteering work. We are already looking forward to celebrating with our volunteers at the 2014 Volunteer Recognition Dinner.