International Volunteer Day was an opportunity to give hundreds of Ipswich’s unsung community heroes some of the recognition they deserve.
There were about 250 local volunteers at the 2018 Community Breakfast, hosted by Ipswich City Council in partnership with Volunteering Services Australia.
The organisations present represented the incredible diversity of volunteering in Ipswich – from Lions to Friends of the Ipswich Library, from the State Emergency Service to Ipswich Hospice Care, from Arts Connect to the Heart Foundation Bundamba walking group, and many more.
Volunteering Services Australia community engagement officer Vicki Meyer said volunteers are the heart of the community, and ambassadors for the organisations they work for.
“Without volunteers in our community a lot of organisations would probably cease to exist. A lot of volunteers are at the grassroots level, the ones doing the service delivery, and that is why they are the change-makers of the community,” she said.
Ms Meyer said volunteers contribute an estimated $100-$200 billion to the Australian economy and around 743 million hours each year.
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Ipswich’s Alchemy Street Choir was the feature performance at the day’s breakfast.
Musical director Melissa Blacksell said membership of the choir ranged from working people, to people with a disability or mental health, through to carers who come for themselves. There was a diverse mix of ages, with people from different backgrounds and with different cultural identities.
“We are all-inclusive, you don’t need to have musical ability or be able to read music,” she said.
“What is really important is that after practice we have a supper and try to engage new people or people with need, with others – that’s the social side.”
Ms Blacksell said the choir brought joy and excitement to its participants, and for some members they had not experienced feelings like that until they found the choir.
“I know the joy that music and singing brings. I see it in their faces. Today they were so nervous and excited. They are really proud of the choir,” she said.
“It’s such a positive thing, and really does assist with mental health, the endorphins get flowing.
“They are a kind group of people, and they help each other.
“For me personally, this is giving back and I love it, and I’m getting from it so much more.”
Join Alchemy Street Choir
People are encouraged to attend a few rehearsals initially to see if the choir would be of interest to them.
Venue: Ground floor Auditorium, Humanities Centre, 56 South Street Ipswich.
Rehearsals: Wednesdays from 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm, followed by refreshments
For further information about the Alchemy Street Choir please contact Musical Director Melissa Blacksell on 0409 284 366 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
People can also register their interest in the Alchemy Street Choir through Ipswich City Council’s new Volunteer Portal.