Who Volunteers?

Firstly, an apology for the length of time since my last blog and the somewhat haphazard approach over the last few months. I will finish my term as President of the Country Women’s Association of NSW in just over a month and I think I have been a bit distracted by the light and the end of the tunnel, a family wedding and the salvaging of my neglected garden to host it plus a few unrelated issues that have tested my patience and temper. Emotions that sometimes get in the way of imagination and inclination.

Enough excuses, it’s time to be “onward and upward” as those with the stiff upper lip would say (sounds painful … wonder how the saying came about …?). So here we go!

I spent Good Friday volunteering at our CWA Tea Rooms, which is most efficiently run each year by the hard working members of our Show Catering Committee and around 400 “extras”, at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. It is always interesting and enlightening to interact with the patrons, from both the city and the bush, who are either new to the scone “experience” or seasoned visitors having their annual scone “fix”.
scones - Jackie's sister

As I chatted to those enjoying a welcome rest with their preferred choice of sustenance whilst clearing tables (yes, clearing tables – there are no presidential privileges when all hands are needed on the CWA deck) I noted, with some pride, the respect most of them had for the work our organisation does. Equally impressive was the number of young (and “youngish”) members and supporters who are turning up in their droves to help us with the mammoth task of running the Tea Rooms, to a continually high standard, day after day for a fortnight, every year.

It was invigorating to see the enthusiasm, energy and smiling faces of new members who were enjoying their first taste of the Tea Rooms experience whilst simultaneously marvelling at the clock-work precision that ensures the delivery of the best-ever Devonshire Teas and other tempting goodies, to what seems like a never-ending queue of (thankfully) very patient customers. A huge thanks to both the novices and the seasoned veterans for the time given.

Barbara Reichart with Scone Tally - Jackies sister              IMG_20160327_180448

Some of the aforementioned helpers are not members, but they work like Trojans alongside us, to ensure the standard of service is maintained and the goods delivered on (or close to) time. Some of them are spouses (we offer “brownie point” recognition), others are siblings, adult children, friends or neighbours of members who simply want to help. How fortunate are we that they know such persuasive CWA members? A special thanks to the non-member volunteers who can’t say “no”!

After lunch I switched stations and moved to back-of-house duties and scone cutting. There is some debate over whether this is considered a “promotion” or “demotion” … I look at it as being just another cog in the big wheel that keeps everything turning. Either way it gave me an opportunity, in my very attractive, disposable hair net, to reflect on the happenings of the morning and progress my percolating ponderings about volunteering.

Who volunteers? Why do they volunteer? How do they choose which organisation they might join? Are young people interested in volunteering and if so, what form does it take? In this technological age could I be assisting some distant organisation from my home in rural NSW? Perhaps, if my internet connection could cope?????

I do, in some respects, have my own experiences to draw on, but they have, at times, been limited in choice by distance and access, like many other things in rural areas … for example; might I have been a surf life-saver if I lived on the coast? I’d certainly be fitter but my skin specialist would be shaking his head.

In my search for answers I did what all good seekers do nowadays … albeit at somewhat slower speeds (thanks Telstra) … I asked Google! They didn’t disappoint and provided me with a very interesting report from the NSW Government, which pulls together information from other, very reputable suppliers of information and can be found at http://www.volunteering.nsw.gov.au/about-us/second-volunteering-strategy

This report actually dispels the myth that volunteers are fewer in number and articulates some of the barriers to offering one’s time to serve others.

Methinks there is not a shortage of volunteers, but a shortage of ideas on how to engage them.

Any suggestions?volunteer-652383_960_720

Doing It Our Way

How good is the early morning and sunrise, on any given day? Especially Australia Day.

The air is clear, crisp, clean and sound seems to travel so much further through it. Birds, animals and most young children have no concept of what is meant by the phrase, “I don’t do mornings”. And how wonderful it is that they don’t! It’s such a fantastic time of the day and their enjoyment of it is infectious. So as the sun was making its way over the eastern horizon and the moon, in its fullness, was still a long way from settling below the western skyline I ventured out with my trusty Nikon, to try and find some way of capturing the moment. Even for a professional I imagine this to be a most difficult task, let alone an absolute amateur like myself, who not only lacks any sort of skill but also the patience it takes to get the illusive “perfect” shot.

In the time it took for my morning ‘cuppa’ to cool to a drinkable temperature I happily snapped away using the magic of digital photography i.e. take a baker’s dozen of everything and there might be one semi-good one amongst the lot!! Three out of sixty or seventy…. odd…isn’t bad……is it?

Sunrise 1Sunrise 2






Early Morning Stretch

During this wondrous wander of the house paddock and surrounds happily snapping anything that moved (or didn’t) it occurred to me that being Australia Day we could have the day off, really get into the swing of thong-throwing and barbequing with a few “oi, oi, oi’s” thrown in for good Aussie measure.

Then reality set in.

Being self-employed, or maybe it’s just being a farmer, with rain predicted and lots to be done before the wedding there was no time for resting. Yes, I did say wedding! Haven’t told you that little tidbit of news yet, have I?

Josh and Roz announced their engagement on Christmas Eve and after many rounds of congratulations, much popping of champagne corks and the excited delivery of said news to all who needed to know, the happy couple recovered enough to advise that they would like to be married in our garden. Given that our garden would be better described as a front yard with some lawn and trees, there is a considerable amount of work to be done by September! “Keep it simple” is the sage advice I have been given, which I plan to adhere to religiously.

All joking aside, we are truly excited for Roz and Josh and wish them a beautiful journey together.

So, as a consequence our Australia Day has been spent pretty much like any other day, with everyone doing something useful. A good Australian pass-time, so perhaps we did celebrate – our way!


The Medical Centre receptionist is organising invitation lists and making wedding plans.

The builder is plumbing??

The builder is plumbing??


The eldest and the youngest farmers are dabbling in diesel mechanics

The eldest and the youngest farmers are dabbling in diesel mechanics


The ‘D’ team are performing supervisory tasks – Chip is behind the tyre claiming territorial rights…

The ‘D’ team are performing supervisory tasks – Chip is behind the tyre claiming territorial rights…

And I am psyching myself up for garden duty on whipper and chopper – no selfies allowed!

How did you spend your day, mate?

A New Resolution


Welcome to 2016, I hope it brings you peace and happiness.

When I started contemplating this blog, what to write about and then which words to use for my wish to you and yours for the year ahead, peace and happiness were the first two to arrive in my head. As is often the case with me, my mind wandered to contemplating why those two words? Why not health and happiness, or joy and prosperity, or everything you want?

I pondered this question whilst mowing the lawn this morning (hence the late blog) and smelling the freshly cut grass, feeling the light breeze on my face, soaking up my dose of Vitamin D and generally trying to enjoy the early morning experience, rather than bemoaning the job and thinking it was just another chore that needed to be done. Perhaps that’s why those words, peace and happiness, popped into my head. Maybe it’s a sign that my perspective on “things” needs to change and the words were a message to me and one which I should be heeding myself rather than spruiking them as inspirational thoughts to be passed on to you.

Maybe it’s all the distressing events in our world and the unfiltered and immediate reporting of them which, even though it’s at ‘arms-length’, seems to bring conflict and misery closer than we would otherwise personally experience.

Around the globe millions have never experienced a world where there is not some sort of large scale conflict, misery or loss, on almost a daily basis. Each one of them must yearn for peace and happiness that stems from not living in fear. Something most of us take for granted, if we’ve ever thought about it at all.

Being able to grow a lawn to mow has just taken on a whole new meaning. The more I mull these thoughts over, the more I realise that even my earlier words about enjoying the experience were selfish ones.

I can’t say this is going to be a life-changing moment for me and I am too old to become a crusader for world peace, but maybe the proverbial inner peace and happiness is projectable. You know, like the concept of “paying it forward” (did you know there is a Pay it Forward Day – it’s 28th April 2016, see info here). I wonder if all my years of volunteering count.

If you’re starting to ask yourself “what is the point is to this story”? I have to say there really isn’t one, other than to allow my wild thoughts to escape onto a page and bore those of you unlucky enough to be reading it. I guess all I can do is challenge myself and you, to put thoughts and words into action by being less self-absorbed (says she who has spent the morning exploring her own thoughts!), start appreciating what’s really important and then actually do something to help another person experience them.

As Ronald Reagan said “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone”

Who’s on your ‘to-do’ list?

friends-596573-hand out