‘Small but mighty’ group connecting community for good

Mandy, Sally and dog Quentin from Volunteer for Knox. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Tanya Steele

The small but mighty Volunteer for Knox community team is once again a finalist in the Volunteering Victoria Awards for the second time in two years for the Community Partnerships Award for 2023.

The government is recognising 28 outstanding Victorian volunteers who have generously given their time and skills to make this state an even better place to live.

Volunteer for Knox stated via social media that they will be “Off to the beautiful Government House – we go on February 27. Wish us luck!”

Coordinator Sally Dusting-Laird said while Volunteer for Knox is only a small team, it doesn’t stop them from doing great things.

“We are happy to be nominated and to go to Government House and meet the Governor, and be applauded for the work that we do in the community,” she said.

Ms Dusting Laird and Co-ordinator Mandy Limb are both looking forward to the ceremony.

“It’s very formal and it is very lovely to be invited,” Ms Dusting-Laird said.

On 2 February Minister for Carers and Volunteers Ros Spence announced the nominees for the 2023 Volunteering Awards which recognise community organisations and volunteers for the enormous contribution they make to Victorian communities and the economy.

Minister Spence said volunteers play a vital role in our community and these awards celebrate the incredible achievements of our hard-working volunteers.

“It’s been through the resilience and innovation of our wonderful volunteers that many of our community organisations have been able to continue to provide great service.”

The Volunteer for Knox group has a governance team consisting of the five Knox neighbourhood houses and is funded by the Knox City Council.

“We aim to place passionate and willing volunteers,” Ms Dusting-Laird said.

The nomination stems from a collaboration facilitated by Volunteer for Knox which has resulted in pairing up local community member Lillie Giang – Founder and President of Feed One, Feed All and 30 youth group volunteers from Resend church.

Lillie Gang stated in her nomination letter that

“The Resound Church Youth group are energetic, enthusiastic and we have bonded as a dream team. We host Master chef challenges keeping it fun and exciting for all involved. Even other members of the church have expressed interest in volunteering and we feel like a connected community all working towards the same cause.

Volunteer for Knox have been extremely supportive in all areas of training, networking and continued connections. Their guidance, patience and commitment have been outstanding. We are very grateful to be able to continue to amplify our outreach with such a wonderful group of volunteers that we call family.”

Ms Dusting-Laird said initially the Volunteer for Knox introduced the youth group leader who met with Lillian and through that meeting, they then offered Feed One, Feed All the commercial kitchen at the church.

“Every Friday night they prepare. cook, and package meals for vulnerable people in the community,” she said.

“They are putting out about 1000 meals a week at the moment and they’re just growing bigger and bigger.”

Volunteers for Knox continue to support the development of the program, assisting with more volunteers .

“The nomination was for creating that opportunity and pairing Lilian with the youth group and we are now supporting them as they go along,” Ms Dusting-Laird said.

“We aim to place volunteers, assist marginalised groups and try to think outside the box,” she said.

“Volunteering, especially as a young person can also really stand out on your resume – you’re giving back to your community.”

Ms Dusting-Laird was previously announced as the Runner Up in the Volunteering Victoria Awards in the Community Partnerships category for her work at the Westfield Knox Community Space in 2022.

Volunteering Victoria Chief Executive Geoff Sharp said they are pleased to partner with the Government and Government House for a joyous celebration.

“These awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of Victoria’s volunteers, acknowledging their selfless care and immense impact on building stronger, more connected communities,” he said.

Volunteer for Knox will continue its vital work helping place volunteers and looks forward to creating more opportunities within the community.

One individual and one organisation will be named the Premier’s Volunteer Champions of the Year at a function to be held at Government House on 27 February.

For the full list of finalists, visit volunteeringvictoria.org.au/awards