It’s National Volunteer Week here in Australia this week, and we’d like to celebrate by sharing the stories of some remarkable people who volunteer in our communities. We hope you enjoy our first story from Bryan West…
Above: Bryan and Amy
"I truly believe that the best gift is the one you can give others, and there really is so much to be gained and learned from sharing our time and skills with others."
Bryan West, volunteer for Bush Heritage Australia.
1. Which organisation do you volunteer for and why?
My family and I are currently volunteers at Bush Heritage Australia's Carnarvon Station Reserve. It is about a 3 hour (dry weather only) drive to the nearest town of Augathella in western Queensland.
We decided to offer a year to Bush Heritage because the great conservation work that they had been doing was severely hampered by two years of substantial flooding which made the property inaccessible.
It is a way for us as a family to live in a most wonderful place, work with incredible people, develop new skills, and to provide a first-hand experience for our children of the joys that
come from serving something larger than our own immediate needs.
At the same time, I am taking advantage of the UN Online Volunteers portal to do some volunteer work for other organisations. At the moment I am developing a website to enable a Nicaraguan girls' craft cooperative to be able to sell their goods to a global market.
Prior to this, We have volunteered in a number of other roles, from the local Kindergarten's Committee to an Overseas Development Organisation to a local gardening group to running a weekly session for mentally ill men who were moved into the community...
Bryan conducting weed surveys
2. How long have you volunteered for? What attracted you to volunteering and what has kept you coming back?
I can remember volunteering for things as a child. More recently, we have been here since January, and are already feeling a bit sad about having to leave at the end of the year! I think the reason we keep doing things like this is simply because of the thing called 'The Gift of Giving' - I truly believe that the best gift is the one you can give others, and there really is so much to be gained and learned from sharing our time and skills with others.
Above: Bryan, Tom and Amy
3. Describe your volunteer role and what you do each time you help out - do you do the same thing each time you volunteer, or something different each time?
At the moment, we are heavily involved in conservation related activities at Carnarvon Station. This includes weed mapping and spraying, feral animal control as well as a broad range of maintenance activities related to the buildings, vehicles, roads and fences.
In general terms, our volunteering activities are many and varied.
4. What advice would you offer to other people considering volunteering?
Try to be clear about what you want to get out of it, so that you don't end up feeling a bit ripped off or used. Remember that ultimately it is about relationships, so tread softly with other people. If you are not sure, then ask!
An example of how Bryan West Digital Art Studio can turn a digital photograph into an amazing oil paintingAbout Bryan: “Oil paintings have always been a perfect way to capture a moment, a memory. Now you can have your favourite photos converted into digital oil paintings that will hold pride of place in your home, or on the wall of a loved one,” says Bryan as he explains the service his company, Bryan West Digital Art Studio offers. Bryan West Digital Art Studio is a boutique studio that blends traditional and digital art. They transform your digital photographs into beautiful pieces of art that capture your memories with the timeless warmth of an oil-painting. Their commitment to quality is reflected in a simple guarantee: if you don't like it, you don't pay for it. Check out their work at www.stilllivingart.com
Find out more about volunteering for Bush Heritage Australia here