When Bonnie Davidson lost her 18-year-old son in a car accident, she drew inspiration and inner-strength from the many others she’d spent her life helping.
Helping others and having a genuine concern for someone else’s situation has been something Bonnie has done for as long as she can remember. It has given her an incredible amount of joy and satisfaction.
One of her many volunteering roles was for Camp Quality. She was a companion, which involved taking very sick and usually dying children to a holiday camp. Without their parents, they joined other children with similar health concerns to their own.
“The kids get away and don’t have to think about their illness. They get to be a kid again. There were no hospital appointments in that week,” Bonnie said.
“I did that for about 3 years.
“I remember lying in bed one night listening to Carmen tell her little friend how the doctor helped make getting a needle in her spine easier. He used to wear a clown suit and joke around.
“I learned about the important things in life and how important it is to make the most of things.”
Bonnie also ran a ‘How to Feel Good’ day for women. The aim was to help out a friend who was raising money for her church.
“I had to do the Think Positive, Feel Positive workshop and what you have to do to be positive,” she recalled.
One month later something happened and her life changed.
It is probably about the worst thing that can happen to a mother.
“I lost my son in a car accident. He was 18,” she said.
Bonnie had to walk the walk and not just talk the talk and draw on her volunteering for inspiration and inner-strength.
“I realised I had a wonderful experience having my son. I had a really positive life with my son and I didn’t have to have regrets, apart from he wasn’t there anymore.”
She realises now that she looks back at her volunteering, how doing that work for others made her resilient.
“Let me tell you I had to dig deep into that bucket after Josh died.
“I moved away from Hervey Bay and I joined Rotary here in Ipswich in 2011 and within a week of joining the floods came, so I found myself volunteering with the Salvation Army and Rotary providing 24 hour meals at the Ipswich show grounds,” she said.
Her volunteering became more targeted to youth during this time in her life.
“I became involved in the Youth Exchange Program. It was giving back to young people which helped me deal with Josh’s death.
“Then the opportunity came to be involved with the RYDA Project (Rotary Youth Driver Awareness) with teaches youth about road safety. We promoted it to schools and I would share my story with them.
“My son was killed when he rode a pushbike home drunk from a mate’s funeral and no one looked after him. No one had his back. No one said don’t ride that bike, get in the back of my car and that was a big part of the program – watch out for your mates,” she would tell them.
Volunteering always played a part in her career.
“I was a stay at home Mum to two children until I was 30.
“During that time I was president of the school centenary committee, I was secretary of the kindergarten, secretary of the local aged care unit, I was my children’s soccer and netball coach, I was on the kids sporting committees,” she said.
When Bonnie applied for her first paying job as a personnel manager, she was doing it as someone who didn’t hold any formal qualifications, hadn’t done any paid work since she was a teenager and having left school in grade 10 after failing maths.
“But a very savvy manager asking me all kinds of questions about the roles I had performed as a volunteer. He realised I had the necessary skills required and gave me the job.
“I can’t think of a time that I’ve volunteered and it hasn’t given me a new skill that I can use in my career.
“Even as a young child, I used to help my Auntie make jugs of cordial, cups of tea and mock chicken sandwiches to raise money for the spastic league.
“I remember helping mum make lamingtons and snow balls for church.
“Dad was in the fire brigade and I remember helping him with back burning paddocks using wet sugar bags,” she reminisces.
“Volunteering has been part of my life. As long as I can remember and it’s always been instilled in me to give back.”
Bonnie Davidson will be the guest speaker at the upcoming 2017 International Volunteer Day Community Breakfast.
It is a free event to thank all Ipswich volunteers and to highlight the important role they play within the community.
The breakfast is on Tuesday 12, December from 7.30am – 9am at the Ipswich Civic Centre.
For more information phone (07) 3810 6655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org