Centre for Hope Founder Geraldine Moran has again been recognised for her efforts in the local community.
The 2016 Lake Macquarie Citizen of the Year is the latest recipient of The Centre for Volunteering’s Hunter Volunteer of the Year Award.
Ms Moran said the award was a nice surprise, admitting she teared up when the announcement was made.
“There’s so many people doing such great work, and I’m thankful to be recognised,” she said.
“Awards like this are a great reminder of the work volunteers do – we need to remember that volunteers come from all walks of life and, no matter if they’re a primary school student or a senior citizen, we should never underestimate the impact they have on the community.”
Ms Moran credited her win to the whole Centre for Hope team, explaining that the services provided was the result of a collective effort.
“We’re quiet about what we do, so it’s such a privilege to be recognised, but it’s definitely a team effort,” she said.
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards, now in their 14th year, celebrate volunteers across the state in a range of categories.
Ms Moran has been awarded the Adult Volunteer Of The Year title, and will now go on to represent the Hunter Region at the Gala State Ceremony in Sydney.
The final winners, and overall NSW Volunteer of the Year, will be announced at the event.
Ms Moran is looking forward to the ceremony, whether it’s in person or hosted virtually, and is excited to connect with the other winners.
“I know I’ll be in good company among so many hard workers,” she said.
“I’ve met some of the other guests before, and am excited to connect with some new faces too.
“Between the fires and COVID-19, a lot of volunteers have put their lives at risk to help others this year – it will be an honour to hear their stories.”
In 2011, Ms Moran founded Centre for Hope to offer support services for young indigenous and non-indigenous people.
She has consistently given up to 50 hours of her time, every week, to the cause.
As a result, she has helped deliver over 3,000 coaching sessions for more than 4,000 students. Ms Moran also supported programs such as One Voice Mob Choir, Wheels of Hope, and the drop in centres in Windale and Tanilba Bay – and she isn’t slowing down any time soon.
She said the drop in initiative in particular was growing in popularity amongst Windale youth.
“We have it open during these school holidays, and there’s about 15 to 20 young people showing up daily,” she said.
“These sessions give locals a change to chat, share some food, and connect with others.”
With COVID-19 impacting how Centre For Hope deliver their services, Ms Moran said she and the team have made a few changes this year.
“We now have our own coffee cart service, Third Sector Espresso,” she said.
“We’re using the cart to offer pop up drop in sessions since we can’t attend schools – we’re planning on travelling out to Wallsend and Lemon Tree Passage weekly to meet with those young people who need our support.
“But, once COVID-19 is over, we hope to employee young people – school leavers and pre-school leavers – to run this cart. This will equip them with barista training and much-needed work experience.”
Ms Moran said it was important for local volunteers to continue offering support in an active and safe way, since there’s still people that need the help.
“We’ve been delivering food, sanitary products, and cleaning supplied to families in need with our Hampers From The Heart project – this isn’t a service we’ve offered before but the pandemic has changed the parameters in which we work,” she said.
“It allows us to continue actively helping out, without putting anyone’s health at risk.”
Ms Moran encourages others to volunteer in any way possible.
“We can all do something to help others,” she said.
Visit Centre for Hope’s website for more information.