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Giving their all for the good of the community

DEDICATED: Volunteers Simonne Celestine and Mel Concepcion at the volunteer celebration.
DEDICATED: Volunteers Simonne Celestine and Mel Concepcion at the volunteer celebration. Peter Gardiner

THERE was enough positive energy in the Noosa Leisure Centre on Tuesday morning to power a dozen giant Tesla batteries - if only this green technology could harness community goodwill.

The dozens of Noosa locals were there to be the ones looked after for a change, with Noosa Council giving them a big thank you as part of International Volunteer Day.

As the Park Bench Ukulele Band gave freely of their time to strum up a lively beat, the Tewantin Meals on Wheels provided catering for this crowd of people who all give whole-heartedly to the Noosa they love.

Serial carers like Mel Concepcion, who once lived in Manila, and Simonne Celestine who has lived around the world, both say they would not live anywhere else.

And since moving here, they keep on giving back.

Mel still does her Noosa Community Radio and has her All Around with Mel C on-air world music radio show on Tuesday afternoons from 2-4pm.

"I've been on the radio, Noosa Community Radio 101.3, for a long, long time,” she said.

"I just love helping out. I'm very community-minded, it's just my nature.

"I just had a beautiful text from Africa, because I send a lot of goods to Africa - containers of clothes.”

Simonne said she knew no one in Noosa when she moved here in 2001, and so decided to train as a radio announcer at Noosa Community Radio.

"I was on air for eight years and since I've left that I've volunteered at the Cooroy Library and I'm now at the Butter Factory Arts Centre in Cooroy, which is really growing - it's fantastic,” Simonne said.

"At the Butter Factory we have opening nights every six weeks for new exhibitions and I go around with the (plates of) food.

"And we've got a shop there now and I volunteer there twice a week as well as the gallery.

"I'm mixing with people who are arty, crafty and I've done all sorts of crafts in my time as well - painting, jewellery.

"Mixing with people of like-mind - there's nothing like it.”

Councillor Joe Jurisevic has been one of Noosa's most high-profile volunteers, organising Clean Up Australia Day for years but also helping out on the school P&C as well as sports groups.

"Volunteering is an essential party of any community, especially at grassroots level,” he said.

"So much that happens in our community wouldn't happen unless it was for volunteers.

"I think on a population basis we've probably got one of the highest volunteering rates in Queensland if not Australia and very proudly so.”

Mayor Tony Wellington said: "This fantastic community of ours has over 300 community organisations just for the Noosa Shire. I think that's quite and extraordinary figure.

"There's been masses of research around the world that says demonstrates that volunteering is good for one's personal well-being, mental health and physical health.

"And that's probably why you all look so hail and hearty.”

The mayor said their efforts also "help build social capital and benefit the lifestyle and living standards of all of our community”.

"So today is our way, that is council's way of saying thank you very much for the work that you do because in fact you lighten the load on council,” he said.

"Your efforts as volunteers to make our lives a whole lot easier and means that there are less resources that we necessarily need to spend in certain directions that can be put to other uses.”


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