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Sydney volunteer of 13 years, Judy was awarded Look Good Feel Better’s 2015 National Volunteer of the Year for her ongoing commitment to the program. Here, Judy provides some insight into her time with LGFB.

“Being empty nesters, my husband and I have kept ourselves quite active by renovating a new retirement home, landscaping and building new gardens as well as socializing with longtime friends, and of course volunteering.

Prior to my recent retirement I worked in HR and Learning Development for over 17 years. My responsibilities included the technical training of staff and client groups, the organisation of client development seminars and the coordination of staff team building activities that benefited various charity groups. I was also trained in skincare and make-up as a Nutrimetics consultant, enjoying many formal make-up sessions and assisting colleagues with wedding groups etc.

I had attended a Nutrimetics training seminar where the LGFB Program Manager at the time was looking for volunteer recruits. At the same time, I had been looking for a way to give back and this program immediately appealed to me. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to use my skincare and make-up training to the benefit of others; to assist cancer patients in regaining personal confidence and to claim control over this very important part of their personal being.

To have the opportunity to contribute my skills, time and effort to an organization that was so generously supplying quality products to benefit cancer patients was a huge factor in my decision to become involved. Providing a safe, fun and personal experience with the only expectation being that participants will have enjoyed themselves in the company of others in similar circumstances with no strings attached, this was (and still is) the true spirit of the program.

My role with LGFB now is volunteer facilitator, which I enjoy immensely! I facilitate at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, co-facilitate at Bankstown Hospital and regularly volunteer at Sutherland and St George Hospitals. I also assist at a number of other venues when needed and at LGFB fundraising and promotional events. It allows me to work on building teams, mentoring volunteers, forging strong friendships with like-minded colleagues and encouraging new volunteers into demonstrating and presenting roles.

My own self-esteem and confidence has grown over my years with LGFB and this in turn has contributed to improvement of my own leadership skills. At every workshop I learn something new, be it a simple trick with the make-up from fellow volunteers or a subtle technique in dealing with different personalities. From each workshop I learn how to improve the experience for the participants, just by doing something a little better or a little differently.

I have far too many memorable moments from volunteering at the workshops, these are just a few:

  • The countless times someone has said, ‘I wasn’t going to come today because I wasn’t feeling well/I didn’t think it would make a difference, but I am so glad I did!’
  • The daughter attending a workshop with her mum who told us, in tears, that she hadn’t seen a genuine laugh or smile from her mum for months until that day.
  • The men’s workshop where the ex-carpenter, while enjoying the pampering, apologised for his rough hands during the hand cream demonstration. He then quietly confided that he had to jump on and off two buses just to get there for that day.
  • The woman who said ‘I don’t want to be defined by my cancer diagnosis so thank you for treating us today as if we are normal’.
  • The woman who was so distressed because of her recent hair loss and wasn’t going to stay for the workshop because thought she was the only one at the workshop without hair. Another woman seated next to her kindly removed her wig and to assure her she was in good company! The distressed woman went on to enjoy the morning and was the very last to leave. The kindness of others, so very heartwarming.

It is a tremendous honour to be awarded National Volunteer of the Year and it is something that I am very proud of. It is humbling to receive this award for doing something that I love so much and to be amongst so many dedicated, caring volunteers. LGFB has a wonderful base of volunteers who give so freely so much of their time, never seeking for themselves any recognition or reward other than the immense pleasure of making someone else’s day just that little better.

I am very proud to have been a volunteer with LGFB for going on 13 years now and only regret that I hadn’t joined earlier! If you are thinking about volunteering with LGFB, please don’t put it off! The rewards are enormous. It is such a privilege to see the participants at a workshop laughing and sharing time with others in similar circumstances, enjoying the skincare, make-up, and hat and wig demonstrations.

You will gain valuable skills that you will use in everyday life. You will even lift your own confidence and gain great self-esteem. You need to acknowledge and recognize that it is a commitment that you need to be prepared to fully participate in. The program’s success lies with the volunteers’ willingness to attend each and every workshop supporting not only the participants but also their fellow volunteers.”