Westpac Rescue Helicopter volunteer fundraisers receiving awards last December for 25-plus years of service are (front, from left) Emily Betteridge of Lismore, Lizzie Wratten of Grafton, Mary Betteridge of Lismore, and Ken Jolley of Lismore; and (rear) crewman Mick Kerry, who received a Civilian Emergency Service Personnel National Medal for 15-plus years of service.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter volunteer fundraisers receiving awards last December for 25-plus years of service are (front, from left) Emily Betteridge of Lismore, Lizzie Wratten of Grafton, Mary Betteridge of Lismore, and Ken Jolley of Lismore; and (rear) crewman Mick Kerry, who received a Civilian Emergency Service Personnel National Medal for 15-plus years of service.

Chopper forced to cancel doorknock

A LACK of volunteers has forced the Lismore-based Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service to abandon its annual doorknock appeal.

In the past the doorknock has aimed to raise about $150,000.

But last year the door-knock fell $50,000 short of its target, with the organisation saying it was disappointed because many of its volunteer collectors did not turn up on the day.

So this year they will try something different – donation envelopes will be sent to each and every home in their flight area.

Business development manager, Nyree Epplett, said there were several reasons behind the change.

“We’ve had a decrease in the volunteer base. It’s the same situation for a lot of charities in this area,” she said. “But the doorknock is all about getting the volunteers on the day.

“It also costs a lot to stage the event and our staff put in a lot of hours.

“And the biggest variable is the weather.

“By sending out donation envelopes, we can reachevery single household in our flight area.”

It is hoped those 120,000 households will raise at least $225,000 for the appeal, which starts on August 21.

“This year is our most challenging yet because our budget is $6.5 million,” Ms Epplett said.

“It’s getting harder for us because we’re competing with so many charities.

“But we just would not survive without the community.”

However, the helicopter rescue service is not the only organisation on the Northern Rivers suffering from a lack of volunteers.

The popular and successful Ballina Relay for Life was cancelled this year because not enough people stepped forward for the committee.

The Casino Show was also cancelled because of aging volunteers, and the Nimbin Show was also put in jeopardy because the organisers could not find enough helpers.

Co-ordinator of Volunteering Northern Rivers at the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre, Jeannette Tyler, said volunteers were essential to many groups.

“We haven’t got enough volunteers on our books,” she said.

“There has been a real lull recently and I don’t know what’s causing it.”

CAN YOU SPARE AN HOUR TO HELP A CHARITY?

MANY local non-profit organisations are in desperate need of volunteers, even if it’s just an hour every now and then. It all makes a difference.

Volunteering Northern Rivers can help match volunteers with charities, as well as offering training programs.

Co-ordinator Jeannette Tyler said many volunteers in the region were aging and younger people were needed to help out.

“Many charities and non-profit organisations in this area would struggle to survive without volunteers,” she said.

To volunteer, or find out more, phone 6621 7397.



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