Leon's fired up ready for call
VOLUNTEERING at the CFA was in Leon Cray's genetic make-up.
His father volunteered, and his grandfather volunteered, so as soon as Mr Cray reached the legal CFA volunteering age of 16, he put his hand up to get involved.
More than 15 years later, Mr Cray is still volunteering, and still loving it.
"I couldn't imagine my life not being in the CFA," Mr Cray said.
He started in the Stawell Fire Brigade, but began with Wendouree when he moved to Ballarat to further his education.
"I just love the community involvement, and being able to help someone when maybe life isn't going their way," Mr Cray said.
He has been involved in many sides of the CFA, as a firefighter and in leadership.
Currently he is the 2nd lieutenant at Wendouree Fire Brigade, and conducts training sessions for other firefighters.
When he's not volunteering, Mr Cray is a professional bus driver for Davis Bus Lines.
"Sometimes I can't go out in the mornings because of my job; I have to maintain fatigue management," he said.
"But that alarm goes off for a reason. There's someone or something happening and you've got to attend."
Mr Cray says that the challenges that the job brings encouraged him to join.
"It's why I took a leadership position as well, I wanted to challenge myself and further improve myself," he said.
"What you learn with the CFA you can use also in your personal and professional life."
Salvos a part of our lives
VOLUNTEERING at the Salvation Army has become an important part of Anne Hardy and Bryan Hobson's lives.
Ms Hardy has worked in the Ballarat city Salvos op-shop for about three years, sorting goods and helping customers.
"I got involved because I wanted to give back to the community and make a difference; interact with volunteers and customers," Ms Hardy said.
She wasn't involved with the church before, but as her kids were growing up and gaining independence she decided to help out.
"I just happened to walk in off the street one day and ask if they needed anybody and they did," she said.
Mr Hobson was in retirement and decided he needed something to do.
He delivers donated frozen foods, works in the Salvo's supermarket and in the op-shop.
"It's great to be doing something social that's giving back to the community," Mr Hobson said.
Salvation Army officer Dean Sutton said 50 to 60 volunteers helped in Ballarat.
"There is no way we could do what we do without them," he said.
Working with clay to help others
CERAMICS was not a career path Wes Harris had ever considered, but now he volunteers twice a week working with clay at Vision Australia.
"I had a look at the woodwork department, but the volunteers there looked a lot more skilled than me. Then I looked at the ceramics department and they had a need for volunteers so I decided to start helping there," Mr Harris said.
Soon after retiring, Mr Harris' wife suggested he help out with the not-for-profit organisation.
Starting his volunteer work about 12 months ago, he hasn't looked back.
Mr Harris pours clay into moulds that the clients of Vision Australia then decorate.
"It's a pleasurable activity for the clients, for them to make worthwhile things that they can use themselves, or maybe use as a gift."
"Other fantastic volunteers help the vision impaired in details that they may not be able to do themselves."
In his earlier life, Mr Harris worked as primary school teacher and also managed a retirement village.
"There aren't the pressures that a real job involves," Mr Harris said.
"Volunteering still has its challenges, though."
Mr Harris also occasionally drives clients to and from the day centre.
Vision Australia relies on 90 volunteers around the Ballarat region, all working to help the vision-impaired.
A challenging but rewarding role
JOHN Maggi's commitment to the SES has grown over his 12 years there, volunteering 25-30 hours a week to the organisation.
Mr Maggi, who works as a painter and decorator, acknowledges the challenging and confronting nature of his voluntary position.
"We do see our fair share of dead bodies, but the SES provides a lot of peer support and chaplaincy," he said.
But not all of the rescue work is bad. "Recently an autistic 12-year-old boy went missing and one of our members found him," he said.
"When you do a rescue where everything goes right and falls into place, it's really rewarding."
He has also been involved in two National Disaster Rescue Competitions in Queensland and South Australia.
"It takes a lot of understanding from your partner, especially when you get a call to go out at 2am."
SES volunteers help communities in emergencies including floods, storms, road crash rescues, earthquakes and fires.
Mr Maggi says the SES has changed a lot over the time he's been there.
"We did things a lot differently years ago. It's a lot safer now.
"It was great to see the evolution of the SES and how it changed."
SES chief executive officer Mary Barry considers Volunteer Week as an opportunity to thank her volunteers.
"Last year ended with a hailstorm in Melbourne on Christmas day and major floods struck north-east Victoria in March," Ms Barry said.
"On both occasions, SES volunteers worked tirelessly and travelled far to protect lives and properties."
In February this year, Mr Maggi became the unit controller for Ballarat, a position he will hold for four years.
"So I'll still be there for a while yet," he said.