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Caring Carey Binks awarded NPCF Chairman’s Medal

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Like most selfless people, Carey Binks doesn’t expect to receive accolades for something he’s passionate about.

Which is why the volunteer at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Northern NSW headquarters Red Gum House, near John Hunter Hospital, was humbled to accept the 2023 Chairman’s Medal at the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation’s (NPCF) 20th annual grant giving ceremony at the NEX on Tuesday 9 May.

The plaudit, which pays tribute to the late NPCF chairman Michael Slater – and first presented in 2018, recognises outstanding individuals who make an impact in their community.

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Northern NSW volunteer Carey Binks. Photo: Rod Thompson

So, there was no more a deserving winner than Mr Binks, according to current chair Jennifer Leslie.

“For the past six years, Carey’s given in excess of 3,500 hours as a volunteer at Red Gum House,” she said.

“He’s on hand in the middle of the night to receive and assist vulnerable regional families who have arrived in Newcastle tired and stressed… and facing the trauma of serious childhood illness or injury.

“As well, Carey’s a thoughtful contributor.

“He initiates conversations and seizes opportunities to suggest ways of doing things better, safer and always in the best interests of the families.

“As a highly-capable and valued team member, Carey’s also training new volunteers, imparting his knowledge and experience to help them thrive.

“He’s to be commended for his commitment, contribution and care of the community.”

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Northern NSW volunteer Carey Binks. Photo: Rod Thompson

As for the man himself, Mr Binks admitted he’d thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the past six years.

“I have a real passion for what I do,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“But, I’m equally humbled to be recognised as a volunteer.

“I represent a team of them, which before COVID, numbered over 200.

“Unfortunately, it was decimated by the pandemic, like most things, and we’re in the process of renewing our base and training up new people.

“So, I’m collecting this award on behalf of all the volunteers at RMHC – and all those representing their organisations here today.

“Every one of them deserves praise.

“To be honest, I feel honoured to be able to volunteer.

“Throughout COVID, there were only a couple of us who were in the right age group and health considerations to keep going through the pandemic.

“And, it was terrific to come out the other side.

“I was working in Red Gum House on Sunday night and able to share it with a whole lot of families, who were out and about.

“You could feel the heart of the house beating again.

“For some shifts during COVID, I was there for the entire 14 hours and didn’t see one person.

“That’s the impact the pandemic had on our particular charity.

“It’s my hope, in the future, that I’m able to continue to work with RMHC and to join them as they seek to expand the house to more units.

“Currently, we have 18, which provides accommodation for 600 families a year.

“So, it’s a great thing to be involved in.

“I’d like to acknowledge the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for its assistance to non-profit and community groups in the Hunter and northern NSW region.”

All the recipients celebrate at the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation’s 20th annual grant giving ceremony at the NEX.

Recognition awards also went to fellow volunteers Trem Boyd (Happy Paws Happy Hearts) and John Murphy (Cancer Council).

Seven regional groups and charities shared in almost $650,000 in funding, including local organisations Family Inclusion Strategies Hunter (FISH – $94,831), RizeUp ($55,000), Solve-TAD ($55,000) and SMART Recovery ($50,000), as well as Central West’s Boys to the Bush (Schools Programs Initiative – $108,800) and Foodbank (Central West Community Food Relief Program – $137,000) and New England’s University of New South Wales (Wirringaa-baa: Women’s Empowerment and Cultural Resilience Project – $146,961).

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation chair Jennifer Leslie and executive officer Carly Bush.

“Today, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary, it’s a wonderful opportunity to pause and appreciate two decades of hard work,” Ms Leslie said.

“During that time, our foundation has distributed more than $26 million, been part of over 550 projects, built hundreds of exceptional relationships with invaluable partners and changed countless lives.

“Staying in the present, these seven projects remind us of the value and importance our partners have in their communities, and the ways in which their hard work makes a tangible difference every day.

“When looking ahead, we dream big – and at 20 years young, we’re just getting started.”

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