Tenterfield's Visitor Information Centre and School of Arts are struggling for volunteers, but an information night next Wednesday, October 14 from 6-8pm will lay out all the personal gains to be had from contributing your time.
VIC volunteer coordinator Charlie Mains is one of the information evening's organisers, and started off as a volunteer herself so she's well-placed to share her personal experience. She appreciates that the difficulty in attracting volunteers is an Australia-wide issue not just specific to Tenterfield, but the pandemic has made things even harder.
The rosters have been depleted by volunteers opting not to return after the COVID closedowns, perhaps due to virus-exposure concerns or maybe they feel it's someone else's turn. The VIC can no longer open regularly on Sundays due to the shortage, although it did for the past two Sundays for the school holiday traffic. (Charlie roped in her husband to help her one Sunday to keep the doors open).
The VIC is busy when it is open, and those numbers will only increase coming into Summer and with border restrictions relaxing further.
Charlie urges anyone even slightly interested in volunteering to not delay, and the information night is a good start. One of the presenters on the night is a lady who dropped into the VIC while her car was being service across the road, and now enthusiastically travels down regularly from Liston to do her shifts.
"She absolutely loves it," Charlie said.
Charlie herself had only been in town three weeks when she first volunteered, although she had been a regular visitor. She said you can definitely learn on the job, and newbies are always paired with someone more experienced to show them the ropes.
She and other volunteers have found that the role motivates them to get out and experience local attractions first-hand, so they can share that insider knowledge with visitors. In fact newcomers to the shire offer a fresh perspective that longtime residents may struggle to see.
Of course the social aspect and opportunity to network is also a boon for those new to the district. Rosters are flexible to suit lifestyles.
Volunteer roles are also waiting to be filled at the School of Arts, in the cinema and museum or even making popcorn. A interest in the shire's history and in Sir Henry Parkes is an advantage but there's plenty of information to hand.
For catering and COVID restrictions anyone interested in attending the Volunteer Information Evening is asked to RSVP by next Monday, October 12, to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning (02) 6736 1082.