It takes a special kind of person to be a volunteer and Council was lucky enough to honour six of the best for this year’s Impact Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Frankston City Mayor, Sandra Mayer, congratulated the volunteers and thanked them for their service to the community.

“As well as being incredibly generous with their time, our volunteers of the year share the special attributes of being modest and charitable.

“Everything they do is for the betterment of our community and so many people have been touched and had their lives improved because of their selfless efforts,” the Mayor said.

Impact Volunteering Coordinator, Sue Dunn, said the results of the volunteers’ hard work were particularly evident during the pandemic.

“I think the spotlight has really been on volunteers this year and how vital their work is to keeping our community ticking over, especially during times of crisis.”

The volunteers were nominated by their peers for contributions encompassing initiativeleadershipinnovationteamwork and service. Additionally, one special community organisation took out the $1000 prize for their contribution.

The winners’ stories are below and their award presentation will be streamed on the Frankston City Council Events Facebook page at 11am Sunday 20 September, prior to The Mayor’s Family Picnic.

Organisations seeking support in recruiting individuals interested in helping in the community are encouraged to visit the Impact Volunteering website: impactvolunteering.org.au

For innovation: Community volunteer Tanya Thomas

Mother of three, Tanya Thomas, was nominated for her work towards making the world a safer and more welcoming place for children with autism and disabilities.

Tanya’s two youngest children are autistic and she said her volunteering journey began in 2016, following a trip to the hospital with her son Seth, now 10. Tanya said staff had difficulty treating and communicating with Seth, who is non-verbal.

Following that experience, Tanya worked with Peninsula Health to transform services for special needs children requiring treatment. This included initiatives to make the hospital environment more welcoming for children and the creation of autism and disability passports for patient files, so that staff could quickly understand how best to communicate and treat those with disabilities.

She continues to volunteer at the service as a consumer representative on the Disability Committee.

Inspired by the difference she made, Tanya worked with Council to see safety fences and gates installed at the Frankston Foreshore playground. She also approached Frankston Basketball Stadium about the possibility of running an all abilities basketball clinic.

“I messaged them with an idea and just wanted them to donate a court to us but they jumped on board and have created this amazing all abilities program,” Tanya said.

“I started out wanting to help my children but then thought, why not help everyone? It feels good to know I’m helping other people.”