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Volunteer Of The Year Award 2016

The 2016 FNQ Volunteers “Volunteer Of The Year Award”  ceremony was held at the Rydges Esplanade as part of the National Volunteers Week celebrations.

NVW logo

Oni at lectern

Political representatives were noticeably absent this year due to other commitments. However, local Cairns Qld MP Rob Pyne was represented by his Assistant Electorate Officer Mary Hikimet .

FNQ Volunteers Services Coordinator Oni Vuniyaro opened proceedings with a welcome for everyone attending and the acknowledgement of traditional owners. Mr Vuniyaro acknowledged volunteers generally for their warm community efforts, and also the presence of Channel 7 to bring this event into the media spotlight. He then went onto recite a poem which read…

Dedicated hearts like yours are not easy to find.
It takes a special person to be so generous and kind
To care so much for your fellow man is a quality too rare
Yet you give your time and talents for all in need to share

So thank-you for being a volunteer
We’re priviledged to work with you
We want you to know how appreciated you are
Not just today, but the whole year through.

Because of you…
someone will have enough to eat tonight
someone will have decent clothes to wear
someone will have shelter
someone will receive medical care
someone will learn the skills to survive and succeed
and most importantly, someone knows there’s at least one person in this world that cares.
Always give happily and live happily”.

Annette speaking

FNQ Volunteers President Annette Sheppard then gave a brief address on volunteering and a project proposal to convene a Volunteer Expo and Exhibition around November 2016. The idea of the exhibition received a warm round of appreciation.

The winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award was May Kelaart from Marlin Coast Meals on Wheels. The Runner-up was Dipak Monger from CentaCare Migrant Services.

The event was well attended by community representatives, member organisations, FNQVI board members, FNQVI staff and friends. Everyone enjoyed celebrating with May and Dipak and recognising their achievement.

May Keelart from Marlin Coast Meals on Wheels.


May receiving award

May has been volunteering at Marlin Coast Meals on Wheels for the last 6 years, and also volunteers her “other” spare time with the Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre and at the Junior Soccer. From her nominator Joann McClure, President of Marlin Coast Meals on Wheels, “May is always the first to put her hand up to fill in if fellow volunteers fall sick and is always the first to arrive (6am) and the last to leave. She is a calm, capable volunteer and friend to us all. We cannot think of a more worthy recipient for this award.”

Marlin Coast Meals on Wheels helps frail older people and younger people with disabilities and their carers to remain in their homes where most are happiest. Reaching out and making a difference in somebody else’s day, makes their day. “Independence is something we all value and to have that taken away through not being able to go to the shops for groceries or to cook regular meals, should not be an obstacle to autonomy.”

Dipak Monger from CentaCare Migrant Services


Dipak celebrating his award small

Dipak has been volunteering at CentaCare Migrant Services for 2 and a half years as a dedicated and reliable volunteer. He is well respected and goes the extra mile to assist servicing the services’ clients. Dipak’s role in the Refugee Resettlement Program is invaluable. The program is a crucial part of the settlement of new refugee arrivals; the assistance given allows new arrivals to become valued members of the community.

Dipak comes from a refugee background and has lived many years outside his country of origin Bhutan before resettling in Australia. “Dipak has assisted a number of families from different countries to learn the practicalities and systems of life in Australia orientating them to the area in which they are living. Dipak has been instrumental in helping them build their confidence and feel more at ease in their unfamiliar surrounds. This has included showing clients where they may go fishing and assisting them to put together their newly purchased pushbikes so that they are able to move around in the community with ease.”

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