WHEN it comes to volunteering the Central West has much higher rates than the national average. People not only fight fires and coach junior sport as a volunteer, they also do things that are just a little bit different all in the name of helping their community.
Nationally, 19 per cent of people regularly volunteer, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows, but in this region it seems the smallest communities give more of their time.
The most volunteer-minded council area in the Central West is Weddin Shire Council where 31.8 per cent of the population give up their own time to help others.
Also leading their way when it comes to volunteering is Forbes (25.1 per cent), Parkes (24.3 per cent), Blayney (24.2 per cent) and Nyngan (24.1 per cent).
In the bigger centres, the rate is also higher than the national average, with Bathurst at 20.7 per cent and Orange at 20.3 per cent.
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Teaching English is life-changing for volunteer and student
A VOLUNTEERING role by one woman has allowed another to begin communicating with the world around her.
For the past 12 months Patricia Robinson has taught English as a second language to a refugee from India who now calls Bathurst home.
When the duo first met they had to communicate through a translator, but now they are able to have a conversation together.
"I was just looking for something different to do and I saw the ad in the paper and I went for it," Mrs Robinson said.
In the year since they met, this refugee has shared stories of her traumatic past, the death of her family members and how she arrived in Australia on a boat with her four children.
"This lady wasn't educated back in her home town, women weren't allowed, and she couldn't read," Mrs Robinson said.
This lady wasn't educated back in her home town, women weren't allowed, and she couldn't read.English language teacher/volunteer Patricia Robinson
"You've got no idea how hard it was for her."
The duo have weekly English lessons together, where Mrs Robinson has not only taught the ABCs but also words for basic food staples such as bread, milk and names of fruit and vegetables.
"We had to start from scratch, but I can now speak to her and she can understand me," she said.
Not only is the refugee better able to communicate with her community, but Mrs Robinson said she has got a lot of satisfaction out of helping someone to learn.
"I just get so much satisfaction out of it, I really do," she said.
Giddy-up to give back to community
WHEN it comes to horses, miniature is best, volunteer Kayleen Badman says.
She has long been involved with the Independent Miniature Horse Registry and when she was diagnosed with a serious illness in 2015 and couldn't work, she decided to volunteer.
Ms Badman's role is computer based and from her home in Grenfell she maintains memberships, horse registrations and runs horse shows.
"I put up my hand to fill in my day, it's a lot of work but I really enjoy doing it," she said.
She admits she "lives and breaths" for her horses and has been breeding them since 2006.
"I got my first horse for my sixth birthday ... now, we've got nearly 30 miniature horses," she said.
Ms Badman said small communities such as Grenfell rely on a high rate of volunteering.
I put up my hand to fill in my day, it's a lot of work but I really enjoy doing it.Independent Miniature Horse Registry volunteer Kayleen Badman
"We're such a small community, it's 40 minutes to the next town, so everyone just bands together," she said.
Ms Badman said the Independent Miniature Horse Registry was at risk of folding without volunteers and that also encouraged her to lend a hand.
"Due to being not-for-profit, if we had to employ someone to do the work I do voluntarily, the costs of membership and registrations will rise substantially," she said.
"It's a good feeling that I'm doing my bit."
Blue days made a little brighter
FOR the past six years volunteer Jane Fairgrieve has been lending a hand to patients and nursing staff at Orange Hospital.
As part of the Blue Ladies and Men volunteer group she performs a range of duties.
"We do washing for out-of-towners who are in hospital, attend to flowers or arrange for a rental TV and take magazines around," she said.
"If they [patients] want a cup of tea or water we get that for them."
Mrs Fairgrieve said often patients who are not local don't have a lot of visitors so she and other volunteers will regularly chat to these people to help keep them company.
The Blue Ladies and Men also help nursing staff by making up medical packs or helping out in the pathology or maternity units.
"You're on the go the whole time you're there, it's always different faces and we have a chuckle along the way," Mrs Fairgrieve said.
"I really like it, it's quite fulfilling."
Knock, knock, I'm here to help you
HER knock on the door can be the only contact some people have with the outside world.
When Cheryl Venables first moved to Cowra in 2015 she only knew a few people so immediately set about joining Meals on Wheels to meet more.
"It's one of those things that I said 'when I retire I'm not going to shrivel up and do nothing'," she said.
Meals on Wheels, in Cowra and across Australia, delivers meals to the elderly and those who might not be able to do the shopping or cooking for themselves.
While the meal deliveries might be incredibly important, Ms Venables said the social aspect of the service was just as vital.
"I deliver to a 90-year-old man who doesn't have any family close by and he absolutely loves it," she said.
I deliver to a 90-year-old man who doesn't have any family close by and the absolutely loves it.Meals on Wheels volunteer Cheryl Venables
"I just love old people, it's one of the things I've always wanted to do."
Ms Venables said you never know what the future may hold for you and has urged the community to give volunteering a go.
"I absolutely love it, it's something I'd recommend to everyone," she said.
"You just see a different side of the world, some people don't have anyone."
Ok smile! Photographer gives time for breast cancer
A BREAST cancer diagnosis might have many people trembling with fear, but Bathurst woman Christine Smith grabbed her camera to lend a hand.
For the past 10 years she has been the volunteer photographer for Bikers 4 Boobs Temora which is an annual charity motorcycle ride that raises funds for Can Assist.
"I was asked to cover this event 10 years ago, at the time my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer," she said.
"Feeling helpless watching her struggle, I took up the challenge."
Each year she takes photos during the ride as well as the reception that evening - in all she takes around 2000 photos across the day which she then donates to Bikers 4 Boobs for them to sell on as a fundraiser.
"It genuinely is one big family [Bikers 4 Boobs], regardless of whether you are a first-year rider or been there every year," she said.
Feeling helpless watching her struggle, I took up the challenge.Bikers 4 Boobs volunteer photographer Christine Smith
Ms Smith said it was a very good feeling to know that she was helping those in need.
"It is just a feel good time to know that what I am doing helps to raise money for those who desperately need it in a time of their life when all else seems lost," she said.
"It is simply a joy to work on this event."
Oh, by the way, thanks for the ear
By DANIEL SHIRKIE
ASK the staff at Baptist Care, Dubbo how long they've been seeing Darryl Yeo during his daily sit-downs with those in need and they'll tell you anywhere from six months to a year.
Even Darryl's not quite sure just how long he's been meeting with people at Baptist Care to hear about their problems, because the time's been flying past.
"How long have I been doing this? To be perfectly honest, I enjoy it so much that I couldn't tell you," he said.
Mr Yeo volunteers three times a week, for two hours a day, alongside the team at Baptist Care, sitting down with the vulnerable who are in need of help.
"People ask me to encapsulate [what it is I do] in some kind of a condensed form and the best way I can do it is to say that I function as a conduit to meet people that are out there in society that need help to transition from where they are to where they'd like to be," he said.
"We get people that arrive here who have come from prison who have no idea where to go, they have no money, no home, no family or friends even.
I function as a conduit to meet people that are out there in society that need help to transition from where they are to where they'd like to be.Baptist Care Darryl Yeo
"Your clientele, if that's what you want to call them, some just want to come in for a cup of tea or a coffee, and when we do that they'll turn around at the door and they say to us, 'oh, by the way, thanks for the ear'.
"It's not the food or whatever else they might be wanting, it's somebody taking the time to listen."
That connection, that can be as simple as someone taking the time to listen to their troubles, is what keeps Mr Yeo going.
"There's an element of rising to the occasion and meeting a challenge, you have to see a position like this not as a job, but as a calling, I believe there's a major difference there - one's a head thing, and one's a heart thing," he said.
Find out more about volunteering with Baptist Care.