National Volunteer Week Changing Communities, Changing Lives Emerge Australia is incredibly grateful for the many volunteers who contribute to the delivery of our services and programs, in support of all Australians living with ME/CFS. This National Volunteer Week (18th – 24th May), we are taking the opportunity to recognise our volunteers and share a glimpse into the world of volunteering at Emerge Australia. Last financial year volunteers contributed an incredible 1632 hours of work across eight support areas including the research digest, InfoLine, storytelling project, committee of management, and policy development. Without this critical support, Emerge Australia couldn’t deliver our programs to such a consistently high standard. Our dedicated volunteers truly understand the impact of living with ME/CFS. Most have their own lived experience of the condition or have a close family member who does. Each volunteer is drawn to Emerge Australia to give back to the ME/CFS community, and we are grateful that they chose to partner with us for this important work. Many of our volunteers contribute from home, from Tasmania to Sydney and beyond, and we also have a small team who contribute weekly from our head office in Melbourne. Our office-based volunteers include Maria and Carol. Maria speaks with the community through the InfoLine and if you've been lucky enough to catch her, you will no doubt remember the interaction! Her warmth and care for each caller is admired by the whole team. Carol contributes to the management of our databases and is a superstar. We love that she appreciates a challenge as taming data is no small feat! Carol says she couldn’t have found a more suitable volunteer position to match her interests and values, and there have been unexpected positives from her time with Emerge Australia: “I’ve learned so much about the condition and its prevalence, as well as the amount of advocacy and support there is both locally and globally. I feel overwhelmingly grateful and hopeful from seeing all the work that is being done”. Another area where volunteers contribute significantly is our Research Digest with its team of five volunteers. Kevin, Ashleigh, Jennifer, Warren and Kylie are affectionately called our ‘Digesters’. Each week they review the latest in research findings and media articles to compile into a plain-language summary for distribution to our 1,700+ audience of subscribers. Jennifer says that contributing to the Digest enables her to combine her two passions: “keeping up to date with ME/CFS literature and helping people understand more about ME/CFS,” as well as giving back to a community that has helped her so much. We are also fortunate to have the contribution of our political liaison, Jenny, who works to build and strengthen the relationship that Emerge Australia has with change-makers within government. This crucial work supports the lobbying efforts of our CEO Heidi, ensuring that people living with ME/CFS are visible to policymakers, and opportunities to make an impact on policy are not missed. Our volunteers also contribute enormously to our Storytelling project. Jop, Claudia, Dani, and Beth work hard to bring to life the stories of our members, who so generously share their lived experiences of ME/CFS. These stories are used for political advocacy as well as being shared through our website and in our quarterly journal. This is a very intensive task; our storytellers have to arrange and conduct interviews, and are so diligent about ensuring the stories are told with care. Jop says that contributing in this way is immensely rewarding: "I spent 10 years in corporate communications before being struck down with ME. It’s great to be able to put my skills to good use, as well as providing a voice for those who are unheard and unseen because of ME". Emerge Australia is beyond grateful for the support of our volunteers, for their time and dedicated support of the ME/CFS community, and the whole team sends a big heartfelt ‘THANK YOU’ for your contribution! From time to time opportunities for new volunteers to join the Emerge Australia team become available, including opportunities for people with specific skill sets needed by the organisation. We are currently recruiting for two Grant Writers. If you have an interest in this opportunity you can find out more through our volunteer page.