Student Cleo Seinen simply wants to make people smile.
It was the 15 year-old’s dedication to bringing joy to others that led to the St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School student being named Interchange Gippsland’s Young Volunteer of the Year.
The disability support service’s chief executive, Debbie Knight, said Cleo had made a huge impact in such a short time.
“Cleo is a very deserving winner of Young Volunteer of the Year for 2016. She is a very popular young volunteer with Interchange Gippsland and has been with us for 16 months now,” Ms Knight said.
“She has volunteered more than any other young person over the past 12 months and her generosity with her time and her commitment to our teenage participants is truly commendable.”
Volunteering for IG’s ROADIES program – providing opportunities for young people with disabilities to be involved in group based activities – Cleo said she got as much out of her experiences as the participants.
She said the organisation’s camps and day trips were highlights for all involved.
“I get to help people out while having fun,” Cleo said.
“A day trip to Lakes Entrance, Coonawarra camp was really fun, also a visit to Licola.
“The camps are amazing; I also get to learn lots of new things.”
Ms Knight said the participation of teenage volunteers like Cleo was extremely important to the program’s success.
“Teenage volunteers will have a go at anything – the high ropes, swimming – they can do all those things while providing friendship and social interactions for the participants,” she said.
“The benefits to the volunteer are great, they learn acceptance, inclusion and develop understanding and empathy for others.
“Importantly their volunteering role also assists them with future educational pursuits and career opportunities.”
Vicki Gibbs was awarded the organisation’s winner of Adult Volunteer of the Year.
Ms Knight described Vicki as “the quiet achiever of volunteering” who was valued for her ability to go the extra mile for the families and individuals she supported.
“She is incredibly generous with her time and provides ongoing regular respite care through the week,” Ms Knight said.
People interested in exploring volunteering opportunities with Interchange Gippsland should phone 1300 736 765 or email marketing and communication manager Jenni Rohde at email@example.com