If you are new to a town like Tilba, people such as Janine Halasz will help break the ice.
The Tilba community stalwart was named the 2019 Eurobodalla Local Hero at the annual awards at the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden on May 23.
"Held during National Volunteers Week, the Eurobodalla Local Hero Awards seek to recognise local residents who make outstanding contributions to the community," a Eurobodalla Shire Council spokeswoman said.
"In the nomination submitted for Mrs Halasz, she was described as an enthusiastic fundraiser, a driving force in the Tilba CWA, a dedicated member of the Central Tilba School of Arts Trust, and the founding member of a knitting group that produced not only items for charity, but lasting friendships.
Volunteers are the glue that binds our community ...Liz Innes
"The nomination states she's someone who 'takes new residents under her wing', ensuring they feel welcome, even while undergoing her own personal challenges."
The nomination described her as "the backbone of our community".
"If people need help she is the first point of contact, providing meals, transport to medical appointments and sometimes, just company to anyone in need," the nomination said.
"Janine has freely given hundreds of hours of her time to various community groups... (The Local Hero Award) would be a wonderful and fitting acknowledgement of all her many years of voluntary service to our community."
The council said: "Finalists in the award were Bernard Basevi, who was heavily involved in the development of Muddy Puddles in Batemans Bay and a volunteer for St Bernard's Catholic Church, Red Rose Charity House volunteer, and Carolyn Harding, who has campaigned for years for a Batemans Bay indoor aquatic centre and volunteered for Carroll College canteen, the Batemans Bay Basketball Association and raising funds for Snowy Hydro SouthCare."
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes presented the award and said it honoured all 31 nominees.
"We know you don't do it for the praise or recognition, but today we say thank you for selflessly giving up your time for the benefit of others," she said.
"Volunteers are the glue that binds our community, bringing everyone together and making it such a wonderful place to live."
She said many vital services were only made possible by volunteers.
"The council has more than 700 registered volunteers," she said.
"We have 125 people who give up their time to assist in our community transport and social support programs, helping seniors and people with a disability in our community. These volunteers help with transport to medical appointments and grocery shopping, teach new skills, and keep them connected to the community.
"We have about 300 people volunteering in the 24 Eurobodalla Landcare groups. They are pulling weeds, clearing waterways, planting trees to control erosion; collectively they log about 10,000 hours each year.
"Earlier this year we had 160 Clean Up Australia Day volunteers working to clear up our shire's streets, beaches and bushland at 35 sites across the shire - that's not counting the efforts of school kids from 13 of the shire's schools."
Cr Innes said other people volunteering with the council included the YDrive mentors who helped get young people on the road and into jobs, approximately 130 people who played a pivotal role in the success of the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, the diverse members of the Eurobodalla Marine Debris Working Group, and 20 volunteers to staff the Bas.
"They're just the tip of the iceberg when you consider all the volunteering outside of Council," Cr Innes said.
"Across the country there's an estimated 6 million registered volunteers and many more who volunteer informally. We all know someone who goes above and beyond, puts others before themselves, or gives up their time for the betterment of our community," she said.
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"That's what Our Local Hero Awards are for. To give these people some well-deserved recognition. We've had 31 nominations for the award, and we're excited to announce our winner on Thursday."
Eurobodalla Council's volunteer development officer Beth Jewell coordinates volunteers for Council's community transport, social support and some NDIS programs.
"We have 125 trained and experienced volunteers who collectively contribute 17,500 hours each year," Ms Jewell said.
"Their contribution is estimated to be worth more than $750,000 of in-kind support for our community."
Ms Jewell said volunteering was a two-way street.
"Volunteers tell me they want to give back, and that they enjoy meeting new people and learning new skills.
"We always have opportunities for people wanting to contribute. Right now we're encouraging more people from Narooma and the south of the shire to get involved."