Young Citizen of the Year says volunteering could be easier than you think

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After being named 2024 Warrnambool Young Citizen of the Year, Courtney Mathew says that she is officially a Warrnamboolian.

Deputy Convener of the Warrnambool Community Garden, founder of Fruit Rescue and volunteer with multiple other groups, Courtney said that she’s often asked if she’s from Warrnambool.

“I usually say “no I was born in South Australia” but I guess now that I’ve won this award I have to start saying “yes I am part of Warrnambool” and for me part of it is that all the places I’m involved with and volunteer with, they embrace you fully no matter where you come from or what your background is,” she said.

“You never do it for any recognition but I just love being part of this wonderful community and all the ways I give back are really fulfilling for me.

“I love this beautiful place and I’m really proud to be a Warrnamboolian.”

Her message to other young people was that volunteering could be a lot easier than they think.

“With the next generation of volunteers coming through the ranks who just can’t commit to every week for a set period of time, they might be able to do things here and there,” she said.

“I’m going to bet that most people have a scroll on their phone for half an hour or an hour a day. When you think about that time over the week, you might be able to use some of it to help a small community group. 

“You could be helping them with simple things, on your own time, on your own calendar, and it would make an enormous difference to them.

“Even if you could give one hour once, it would be really helpful to a group for them to spread the load.”

Warrnambool Mayor Ben Blain congratulated Courtney on the positive effect she has had on the community.“Courtney’s can-do attitude and creative mind have meant she has had a big impact in multiple areas of the community,” he said.

“From creating cross-cultural connections with our sister city Miura in Japan, to helping community groups better utilise social media, rescuing fruit and helping it get into the kitchens of local families and in so many other ways, Courtney is a huge asset to our city.

“Her leadership, her enthusiasm and her drive to find ways of improving the lives of others is inspiring and I’m really excited to name Courtney Mathew as the Warrnambool Young Citizen of the Year.”

Tom Richardson has been named Warrnambool Citizen of the Year, The F Project’s Fabric of Life Festival is the Community Event of the Year and Ailiche Goddard-Clegg is the recipient of the Local Achiever Award.

The winners will be officially recognised at a ceremony at the Lighthouse Theatre on Tuesday January 23 from 6pm. The event will also include a Citizenship Ceremony, where 29 people will take the pledge and officially become Australian Citizens.

All are welcome to attend.