In New South Wales alone, 2.4 million people volunteer each year. That’s a huge number of generous people who give up their time to help others. The Hills area is well known as a community that supports others, and for its many diverse volunteers and community organisations. Community volunteers make the Hills a great place to live.
As time and money get tighter it’s harder for the average person to make time to volunteer — they may get burnt out, don’t feel appreciated and valued or life matters prevent them from helping.
So it’s important that we encourage the people in our community who do help us and thank them meaningfully and often for their contribution. If they don’t know how much we value what they do they may think they aren’t really needed and it’s not worth doing it anymore. Practising appreciation should be an important part of our daily routine.
But remember, not everyone feels truly appreciated in the same way, so a plaque or public acknowledgment might not always be the right way to show someone that you value them and their commitment.
There are different ways to communicate appreciation and encouragement to others. Each individual will value a certain appreciation language more than another — what makes me feel appreciated may not make you feel valued.
There are five basic appreciation language types which include:
• Words of Affirmation — praising and encouraging the person one-on-one and in front of others, or via written (email or handwritten) praise, and public praise.
• Acts of Service — doing something nice for the person as a way of thanking them for their hard work, offering to help them, or even making them a cup tea/coffee while they’re serving.
• Quality Time — giving the person your focused attention over lunch/coffee, stopping by the office and checking in, or a phone call to check how they are doing. This includes showing an interest in listening to their ideas and opinions on the work they’re doing.
• Tangible Gifts — give gifts to those who appreciate it. The gift must be something the person values, which could even be time off.
• Physical Touch (appropriate) — could include handshakes, brief hugs (especially in emotional times), or high fives to celebrate great work.
For more information on how to understand the best ways to show appreciation to people you value check out the book The Five Languages
of Appreciation by Dr Gary Chapman & Dr Paul White.
There are plenty of ways you can provide public acknowledgment to people who inspire you in your community. One way you can do that is to nominate them for a community award through an official award ceremony in your area.
Just being nominated is a clear message of acknowledgment that people appreciate the work you do for them — winning is thrilling but really secondary to the fact that someone took the time to write in and tell others about how amazing you are.
Here are a few awards you can nominate people for, to get you started.

Rotary, Zonta, Lions and Other Service Club Awards:

Service clubs present awards to community members who volunteer, our police and emergency service workers, and teachers/coaches, to recognise people who have demonstrated exemplary humanitarian service consistent with their club organisation’s ideals, and who might otherwise go unrecognised.

NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards

Since 2007, the Centre for Volunteering has been working in partnership with the NSW Government to promote the importance of volunteering, with the presentation of regional and statewide awards for individuals and groups.

Hills Australia Day Awards

The annual Hills Shire Australia Day Awards recognise the valuable contributions of both individuals and groups to the Hills community.

The ZEST Awards

The ZEST Awards rely on nominations from the community to ensure that inspiring individuals and projects are recognised. The ZEST team encourage community members to highlight the positive impact their nominated person has on greater western Sydney communities.
The more valued our volunteers feel the more volunteers we’ll have, and the easier it is to retain them and grow more. To nominate an exceptional volunteer go to: 
www.volunteering.com.au/volunteer-awards/
www.zestawards.com.au/
www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Council/About-The-Hills-Shire-Council/Forms-Fact-Sheets/Application-Forms/Australia-Day-Award-Nominations

Want to be a volunteer or find volunteers to help your organisation?
Go online at www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Services/Our-Community/Volunteering and register yourself or your organisation. ❐


Subscribe for more stories, articles and features from in and around the Hills and Hawkesbury Shires by the region's premier lifestyle magazine;
http://hillsandhawkesbury.com.au/#subscribe-home