Liz Rymill, SCTPG member
I READ with interest Mr Graham Greenwood’s column in last week’s Border Watch.
Mr Greenwood ruminates on the decline in membership (and thus, activity) of some service clubs and suggests, in part, it is accelerated by a lack of interest and commitment from the “so-called time poor generation” (we’ll call them the SCTPG).
Growing up in a small, country community, my parents were heavily involved in Lions, CWA, the Hospital Auxiliary and so on … and as such I saw firsthand the good work of these clubs to the benefit of the whole community.
I also saw the camaraderie and social benefits among members.
But while numbers may be on the slide for some service clubs, it’s been my experience the volunteer spirit is indeed alive and well in the SCTPG’s – but it marches to a different beat.
From my parents’ generation to todays, there has been an immeasurable boom in causes, funding and organisations offering one-off, short term and ongoing volunteering – many of which are linked to specific areas including environment, emergency services, disease research and mental health, social outreach, children and migrant resources to name but a few.
From my parents’ generation to todays, the family unit has also changed – with different employment dynamics, an increase in family (and children’s) extra-curricular activities, side-businesses and expanded industry, board and community commitments of both men and women.
It is my observation that SCTPG’s are aligning volunteer efforts to causes close to the heart and those which are flexible and time-efficient to the modern family unit and realities of modern life.
Examples of this in our own region in the past year alone include the wonderful Pink Up Penola initiative, hay runs to fire and drought affected communities, Four Reasons Why, Toy Libraries, the dozens of projects funded by Stand Like Stone Foundation and even the Community Christmas Day Lunch, of which I am part of and where some forty other SCTPG’s spent Christmas Day serving and fellowshipping with more than 130 in-need people.
Every year there is a wait list of volunteers wishing to be involved with this event.
We are also reminded of the CWA which has modernised, embraced the SCTPG generation and with it, seen the emergence of branches like the Limestone Ladies, which delivered the outstanding Fossil Hunter’s Nature Playground at the Naracoorte Caves site in 2019.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that for everything there is a season.
Volunteering is evolving but the heart of it remains unchanged.
The future points to limitless potential for any united volunteer organisation prepared to be bold, relevant, flexible and focused.