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‘Go-to’ volunteer rewarded for invaluable support


Carolyn Comyns has become known as the Autoimmune Resource and Research Centre’s ‘go-to lady’ after more than a decade of invaluable support.

Her efforts will be recognised with the 2019 Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation’s Chairman’s Medal today (Thursday 23 May) as part of National Volunteers Week, which goes from 20 to 26 May.

Carolyn says she’s honoured by the award but is particularly grateful for the $3,000 grant to her organisation, ARRC.

“I don’t like to draw attention to myself, as I find that awkward, but I’m also very pleased for the funds to be going to ARRC for the excellent work it does,” she says.

“It will allow more people to be reached, to pass on more information, and guide others through their journey.”

ARRC supports people with a range of autoimmune diseases, including Scleroderma, Sjogrens Syndrome and Lupus – a condition that Carolyn suffers from personally, which can cause fatigue, joint pain, rash and fever.

Despite living with Lupus since her diagnosis in 2008, Carolyn happily helped ARRC with everything from fundraising to administration, while she also offered support and guidance to newly diagnosed people with autoimmune diseases.

“I just want to continue supporting ARRC so it can support other people and, in my own way, do whatever is possible to help the organisation to achieve this,” she said.
“There are so many people out there who don’t have my level of support, which is an ongoing thing, and so many people need help.
“Plus, there’s always enjoyment when you get a group of women together as we have a chat and laugh which helps too.”

Meanwhile, Vim Hawtin and Amy Dodd have been announced as joint winners of the 2019 Greater Charitable Foundation Employee Volunteer of the Year Award.

Over the past 12 months alone, Vim has volunteered at five OzHarvest NEST sessions in Newcastle while she’s also participated in the Cerebral Palsy Alliance mentoring program.

Amy, who was runner-up for the award in 2016, spends her time working with nine different charities and community partners, including OzHarvest, Tantrum Youth Arts, and Camp Quality.

Greater Charitable Foundation executive officer, Anne Long, says both employees are highly regarded amongst their colleagues.

“Amy and Vim demonstrate an outstanding example that encapsulates the theme of this year’s National Volunteer Week, which is making a world of difference,” she says.

“Simply by giving the time and talents they possess as individuals they are able to make a big difference to the lives of those in need.”

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