National Volunteers Week

Macedon Ranges Shire Council is shining a spotlight on remarkable community members during National Volunteer Week, running from 20 to 26 May 2024.

Mayor Annette Death said this year's theme for National Volunteer Week – "Something for Everyone" – perfectly captured the essence of volunteering.

“There are a diverse range of volunteer opportunities available across our shire, catering to individuals from all walks of life, so I encourage anyone with some spare time and a willingness to help to seek out local groups that might need a hand,” she said.

“On behalf of Council, I would like to say a massive thank you to all those who currently participate in volunteer roles. Whether you’ve been involved for a short time or a long time, you all make such valuable contributions and a real difference to our community.”

In recognition of National Volunteer Week and to help encourage others in the shire to put their hand up for volunteer opportunities, Council interviewed five volunteers working in varying roles across the shire to see what they get out of volunteering. Their heart-warming stories are shared below:


Karen Shugg, a dedicated volunteer at Galahad's Animal Sanctuary in Gisborne, shared her insights into the enriching experience of volunteering at the sanctuary since January 2020.

"I feel volunteering is a two-way street," Karen says, highlighting the mutual benefits derived from lending a helping hand. Beyond serving the community, she says volunteering instils a profound sense of purpose, uplifting one's outlook on life.

Karen's days at the sanctuary are filled with heart-warming interactions with a diverse array of animals: from sheep and cows, to chickens, donkeys and even camels. “This for me is just beautiful, to be able to hang out with these guys,” Karen says.

Passionate about animal welfare and an advocate for veganism, Karen finds immense fulfilment in sharing her love for animals with the community. Witnessing visitors connect with the sanctuary's residents fills her with satisfaction, reinforcing the vital role of compassion and empathy in our society.

Lynne McAlister, the visionary behind Galahad's Animal Sanctuary, acknowledges Karen's invaluable contribution, remarking: "In a way, it's her sanctuary too."

Building trust with the animals and forming bonds has been rewarding for Karen. “I do like my freedom and I guess when you volunteer, then you always feel it’s your choice,” Karen says.

For those intrigued by Galahad's Animal Sanctuary and eager to explore volunteering opportunities, visit their website to embark on a journey of compassion, connection, and camaraderie with the remarkable creatures and dedicated individuals at the heart of this sanctuary.


ROMSEY CFA – Frank Singleton

Frank Singleton, a dedicated member of the Romsey Country Fire Association (CFA), embodies the spirit of community service and the ripple effect it can have on both individuals and the community.

Reflecting on the influence one can have from an early age, Frank aspires to be a good role model for his family and members of the community.

Before moving to Romsey, Frank always had the idea of volunteering with the CFA, but life seemed to get in the way. Yet, the move to a tighter-knit community presented an opportunity to expand his skills and try something new. Frank seized the moment, joining the ranks of the Romsey CFA. In his words, it was a case of: “If I don’t do it now, when?”

Now, as one of Romsey's CFA tanker drivers, he says: “You have the chance to elevate your skill set and take on other roles.” “It’s nice to drive big trucks, probably a boyhood fantasy.”

Over his three years of service, Frank has mastered the balance between family, work and his volunteer role at the CFA, finding fulfilment not only in times of crisis but also in fostering a culture of safety within local schools.

Indeed, being part of the CFA isn't just about fighting fires; it's about stepping outside your comfort zone, acquiring new skills and forging connections within your community. As research by multiple bodies such as Volunteering Australia suggests, volunteering is linked to improved mental wellbeing and overall quality of life.

“The motivation is: if you want to help someone, I think I would help someone if I was paid or not paid. It’s good to do something just for the fact that you can be a role model and an example for others in the community,” Frank says.

Curious about getting involved? Drop by the Romsey CFA unit on Sunday mornings to introduce yourself or connect online through their website or Facebook page. With opportunities aplenty and a warm welcome awaiting, there's never been a better time to join and make a difference.



One local group making a profound volunteering impact is the Woodend SES, where individuals like Jane Crozier, Paul Riches, and Peter Burkhard exemplify the spirit of service and community engagement.

For Jane Crozier, volunteering with the Woodend SES became a natural extension to step up and fill a crucial role in office, finance and administration. What began as a temporary solution soon blossomed into a 27-year journey of dedication and fulfilment.

Reflecting on her experience, Jane emphasises the sense of purpose and connection that volunteering brings, noting: "I have got lots of connections... usually, I feel like I'm doing something worth my while."

Similarly, Paul Riches found his calling with the idea of helping others in their time of need. Paul joined the Woodend SES and rose to the role of Unit Controller. His responsibilities encompass overseeing training, operations and community outreach, all while managing the unit.

For Paul, the rewards of volunteering extend beyond personal satisfaction to the tangible difference it makes in the lives of those they assist.

“[There is] enjoyment when people show their appreciation when they’re in a situation where they’re not able to help themselves and being able to resolve an issue for them on the day,” Paul says, underscoring the profound impact of their efforts. “It can be personally rewarding as well as beneficial to others.”

Meanwhile, Peter's journey into volunteering was sparked by moments of gratitude and a desire to give back to his new community.

Impressed by the Woodend SES's swift response during emergencies, Peter jumped at the opportunity to lend a hand. His experiences, now ranging from assisting with fallen trees to bagging sand during storms, underscore the diverse range of tasks undertaken by SES volunteers.

Through his involvement, Peter has gained a newfound appreciation for risk assessment and community resilience, all while forging lasting connections with fellow volunteers and community members.

“It is a more harmonious environment with volunteers because everybody wants to work towards the same goal,” Peter says. “When I started I was told family first, work second, volunteer work third. This is something that is important to remember [too].”

Individuals like Jane Crozier, Paul Riches, and Peter Burkhard involvement exhibits the positive impact volunteers present in people's lives, assisting those in need and showcases the diverse tasks undertaken by volunteers. If you're eager to join their ranks at the Woodend SES, visit the SES website to embark on a fulfilling journey of service to your community.


Among our shire’s unsung volunteer heroes is Cassie Bailey, whose volunteer journey began alongside her partner, who was pursuing his own volunteer aspirations.

What started as a supportive gesture soon blossomed into a deeply fulfilling role within The Kindness Collective. For the past two-and-a-half years, Cassie has been an integral part of the team, lending her time and expertise to support those in need within the local community.

The Kindness Collective in Kyneton serves as a beacon of hope for individuals and families facing hardship. Through its Foodbank, op-shop, drop-in space, soup kitchen and crisis relief initiatives, the Collective aims to provide essential support and assistance to community members in need.

For Cassie, being able to contribute to such meaningful work has been a source of immense satisfaction. “We support families that really need support, we’ve got a great team,” Cassie says. “It’s something I enjoy doing.”

With a background in teaching and caregiving, Cassie has always been drawn to roles that allow her to connect with and support others. Volunteering at the Collective has provided her with a sense of belonging and purpose, which she likens to belonging to a tribe. Through her involvement, Cassie has found a meaningful way to continue her tradition of community service while building new connections and relationships.

One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering, according to Cassie, is the opportunity to interact with the community first-hand. Whether it's assisting customers at the op-shop or engaging with visitors at the Foodbank, Cassie cherishes the chance to make a positive impact on individuals' lives.

Cassie and her fellow volunteers at The Kindness Collective extend a warm invitation to others to join their ranks – visit their website for more information. With the support of a dedicated team, newcomers need not feel overwhelmed; instead, can rest assured that help and guidance will always be available. 



Among the remarkable volunteers who have dedicated their time and energy to make a positive impact in their communities is John Tohovitis, whose long-standing commitment to the Riddells Creek Football Netball Club demonstrates the spirit of service and connection.

John's journey with the club began back in the early 1990s when he moved to Riddells Creek with his family. With two boys eager to join the local football scene, John quickly became involved with the football club. Over the time, John has served as treasurer, timekeeper and an invaluable member of the club's operations.

For John, volunteering at the club isn't just about giving back; it's about forging connections, fostering community spirit and providing a positive outlet for local youth. John emphasises the importance of contributing to the community that supported him when he first arrived. "If you can contribute, it's good personally and for the volunteering side of things," he says.

Despite the demands of his profession as an accountant, John finds solace and fulfilment in his volunteer work. Serving as a timekeeper during Saturday games allows him to immerse himself in the action while offering a valuable service to the club.

Beyond the technical aspects of his role, John treasures the friendships and connections he's made over the years. Through shared experiences, John has cultivated a sense of belonging and purpose within the community.

John remains as dedicated as ever to the club. His commitment serves as an inspiration to others, reminding us that no act of kindness or service is too small to make a difference. “It will be great [for others] to give it a try… [to] get a significant satisfaction from doing it," John says, encouraging others to lend a helping hand.

If John’s story has appealed to your interests, you can find the contact information for the Riddells Creek Football Netball Club via their website.


To see what Council-led or other community initiatives are supported by volunteers and to get involved, visit our Volunteers section.