Volunteers are CEF’s lifeblood. They are a constant source of enthusiasm, but most importantly they are stalwarts in their communities: teachers, business leaders, local identities, passionate people from all walks of life who know their local area and are able to give power to the young people in their region.
Their dedication and hard work gives CEF a unique position in the non-profit space; because our volunteer involvement means CEF can be sustainable and have a lasting impact on our regions.
That’s why this year we are proud to announce three Katie Walker Outstanding Service Award recipients – Ken Martin of Coleambally/Darlington Point, John Trist of Edward River and Chen Gaul of Hastings.
John Trist, Edward River; Ken Martin, Coleambally/Darlington Point; Chen Gaul, Hastings
The peer-nominated award recognises the pivotal role each person has played within their own local foundation.
Namesake of the award and CEF board member, Katie Walker of Yass CEF, has been involved from the early days and said this annual award is just a small thank you the board and national office can offer its hundreds of volunteers.
“This award acknowledges committee members who have given countless hours on a voluntary basis over the years for the benefit of the youth in their community,” Mrs Walker said.
“I have been involved with the Country Education Foundation for more than 20 years and during this time I have seen the organisation grow from the first foundation, Boorowa, to over 40 today. This growth would not have been possible without the local committees and volunteers who are the backbone of CEF. Their knowledge and commitment ensures CEF can provide the most deserving students a helping hand to achieve their goals.”
CEF partnerships and committee liaison Juliet Petersen said: “Our volunteers are our greatest strength. CEF acknowledges all our committee members for their commitment to improving the lives of the young people within their district. The Katie Walker award is a formal recognition of these three particular volunteers who have demonstrated outstanding service in 2018”.
This year’s award recipients all agreed they were humbled to be nominated, because they don’t do it for themselves but for their community’s young people.
“It goes without saying receiving the Katie Walker Outstanding Service Award is a very pleasant surprise and I am really chuffed to be nominated. We don’t serve on these committees for personal gain, it is more about trying to help someone less fortunate than ourselves and the students we assist are very deserving,” John Trist shared.
He said the most rewarding part of his 11 years with Edward River CEF has been seeing young country students succeed.
“The interview process is a real eye opener. The students prepare themselves well and are full of hope and enthusiasm venturing out into the next phase of their lives in a challenging new environment. For many it is the first time they will have been away from their families. We get to see these students graduate, and we now have qualified nurses, teachers, commercial pilots, engineers and veterinary surgeons among those we have helped,” John said.
“Some of these students we assist come off farms where they have experienced prolonged periods of drought, so their parents have been doing it extremely tough. The students become quite emotional when they describe how much a scholarship will mean to them as their parents have very little cash flow. In most cases both parents are working just to keep food on the table. It is very rewarding knowing that you are making a difference.”
For Ken Martin, of Coleambally/Darlington Point CEF, his eight years as treasurer has been a commitment he has enjoyed.
“It has been a highly rewarding experience and I have been honoured to be a member of our grant selection panel on a number of occasions. Considering applications and then being involved in the interview process highlights the talents, ambitions and desires that our young people possess,” Ken shared.
“From our little township in NSW, our grant recipients have gone on to become nurses, teachers, a landscape gardener, mechanical engineer, remedial massage therapist, doctor, commercial pilot and one has almost completed her Bachelor of Psychology to highlight just a few.
“My time with our local foundation has been truly rewarding. I thoroughly recommend the Country Education Foundation to anyone looking to become involved in their local community.”
Chen Gaul, of the Hastings local foundation, said her role as treasurer for the past four years has allowed her to connect with local business owners and sponsors and share how influential CEF’s impact on young lives can be.
“CEF is about the local people supporting the local youth. Our community’s generosity goes a long way in making a difference in many young students lives,” Chen said.
“The most rewarding thing with being involved in the work of CEF is hearing from our student grant recipients and learning how our support had changed their lives and enabled them to achieve the goals that would have otherwise been impossible”.