Josie Kay’s Story ~ Chair, Volunteering Gold Coast May 15, 2023May 12, 2023 by Nicole Smith Making a Difference: Josie Kay, Chair – Volunteering Gold Coast What attracted you to becoming a Board Member with Volunteering Gold Coast? I was very aware of Volunteering Gold Coast’s significant contribution in the community transport space and promoting volunteerism and feel very blessed to have been invited to join the Board in 2014. As soon as I walked through the door and listened to the enthusiasm and commitment shared by the team and volunteers, I was hooked immediately. It was so infectious. Nine years later, I have exactly the same feeling and am so proud and in awe of the team of approximately 250 selfless, passionate people. I am also inspired by our dedicated CEO, Brad Cooper, and fellow volunteer Board Directors who are highly skilled, talented and passionate promoting volunteerism not only on the Gold Coast, but also advocating in many parts of regional Australia. Our founder Peter Mark is still actively involved some 22 years later, it’s obviously the place to be! How has volunteering helped you grow as a person? I would be totally lost if I didn’t have volunteering in my life. It helps me not sweat the small stuff and keeps me grounded. Life for everyone is full of curveballs and it’s very easy to get caught up in our day to day perceived dramas, usually first world problems. I am continuously learning from others across our organisation and the volunteering and community transport sector, organically growing as a person from my own life experiences and being surrounded by professionals from all walks of life. Why is it important to support Volunteering? I have no doubt that everyone believes that volunteerism should be supported, whether that means simply giving up a few hours or donating a few dollars financially. Most would be surprised to learn that there is very little financial support provided by the Government to the sector. Sadly, since COVID volunteering rates across Australia have decreased which will have an impact on the vulnerable within our community. Communities thrive in all the right ways when volunteering rates increase, so hopefully this trend will turn in the not too distant future. Please help us fly the volunteering flag by encouraging everyone you know to get in touch with our friendly team or direct them to our website www.volunteeringgc.org.au. Can you share a specific moment or experience during volunteering that has left a lasting impact on you? There are far too many to mention. It’s very rare for anyone who volunteers not to have moments to reflect every time they volunteer as it’s a ‘people business’ and everyone has an interesting story to share. A few years ago I had a conversation with a ‘young senior’ who joined one of our social outings for lunch. She recently had a stroke and looked at me very intently, sharing personal information and that she wasn’t sure she was coping very well. It was humbling for me that she felt comfortable to share her feelings. By the end of the trip she seemed to be feeling a little better emotionally after sharing a few laughs with new friends. I will never forget her courage and strength. Our team on the ground have these experiences each and every day, always lending a hand, being there for the lonely and vulnerable, whether it’s via our transport service, accessible beach program, our community visitor scheme or helping the hundreds of charities find much needed volunteers. Collectively, their unwavering commitment and kindness and the impact on those most vulnerable is what drives the dedicated VGC Board team to continuously strive to maximise our limited resources. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in volunteering but is unsure? Volunteering can be literally life changing as it exposes you to new experiences which pull the heartstrings. None of us have the answers on how to solve the world’s problems, but as they say ‘from little things, big things grow’. Being part of the collective power of a kind community wanting to change the status quo is extremely fulfilling and rewarding. Just jump in and have a go, there are so many pleasant surprises. How beneficial are School Volunteer Programs to schools and students? I believe it should be a compulsory element in the school and university curriculums. Exposing young people to the vulnerable and helping those who are experiencing tough times will remain with them into adulthood. I am aware of a number of schools on the Gold Coast who have wonderful programs and I congratulate the respective leadership teams for their commitment ensuring students’ experience and understanding the importance of service, especially as they are our future leaders. There are some amazing young people that I have been privileged to meet in this role, along with their committed parents. The future looks bright! Volunteering can be a life-changing experience, allowing individuals to connect with others, gain new skills and perspectives, and make a difference in their community. It provides an opportunity to step outside of oneself and contribute to something. And for those who may be feeling disconnected or lacking purpose, volunteering can give a sense of belonging and fulfillment. If you would like to volunteer you can read more about it on our website.