Recipients of the NQ Volunteer of the Year Awards 2020

Congratulations to the recipients of the NQ Volunteer of the Year Awards 2020. The awards were announced at our virtual On The Couch with VNQ celebration on Thursday 21 May.

The 2020 award recipients are:

Heart of Volunteering – Liz Downes, Wildlife Queensland, North Queensland Conservation Council and James Cook University Library

For more than 40 years, Liz has been passionately volunteering her time, expertise and skill for a number of community organisations. Liz is an inspiration in the conservation realm, participating in difficult environmental and social issues. It’s Liz’ research and storytelling ability though, that has enabled the Special Collections at JCU Library to gain such a following through a regular radio series on ABC North Queensland called ‘White Gloves’. Liz’ gift in locating and revealing stories of historical significance, communicating through her entertaining blog posts (of which there are now over 60) has been instrumental in connecting our history to around 14,000 radio listeners.

Youth Volunteering Award – Sarah McDonnell, Burdekin Shire Council (Community Development)

Sarah has become the face of many organisations and her school not only as a volunteer, but as a leader laying the foundation for future generations. Sarah’s enthusiasm and attitude towards volunteering is what has enabled her to successfully complete multiple projects with the Burdekin Shire Youth Council and Ayr State High School Interact Club including helping write a youth bill decriminalising sex work, establishing her high schools recycling project, and assembling birthing kits to donate internationally to aid countries in need.

Volunteer Impact Award – Susanne Gardner, The Pyjama Foundation

Sue has directly and positively impacted more than 600 people through her various volunteering activities in the community. At The Pyjama Foundation, Sue visits and mentors children who are living in foster care, coordinates the resource library for the Pyjama Angels, provides knowledge and support to those working with young children, and assists with fundraisers and community events. She works tirelessly across many volunteering organizations like the Townsville Toy Library and the Probus Club of Townsville always putting her hand up to help, and in her spare time she also helps out at the blood bank and knits hospital garments for women who have mastectomies.

Volunteer Achievement Award – Kate Pemberton, ‘Kate’s Campaign for Change’

In 2017, aged 15, Kate started the grassroots movement ‘Kate’s Campaign for Change’ to donate care packages through local not-for-profit organisations that help in-need and at-risk locals in the community. Kate who has difficulty with movement and speech, and uses a wheelchair for mobility, has overcome many obstacles to fulfil her role as the ‘Campaign Ambassador.’ Kate spends many hours a week collecting donated items across the city, creating care packages, and delivering packages to organisations for distribution. Her campaign is now supported by over 700 campaigners who donate goods or cash for care packages and volunteer their time to assist in collecting and packing activities.

We will be sharing more of their stories in the coming weeks.