Take your hats off to Gladstone's 7000-plus helpers

ABOUT one fifth of Gladstone residents volunteer for the community.

Statistics show 19.2% of the population - or 7730 people - volunteer their time in a form of unpaid work.

As part of International Volunteer Day today, The Observer is encouraging the community to recognise the contributions volunteers make to Gladstone.

Based on current opportunities listed online, volunteers are needed most in disability services, the arts and community services in the Gladstone region.

Figures from Volunteering Queensland show the most popular choice of volunteer work is sport and recreation, followed by religious and community welfare.

Data also shows there are 1.2million people who volunteer in Queensland, and this is not expected to change anytime soon.

Even with today's time pressures, VQ chief Perry Hembury said there was no evidence to show volunteer numbers were declining.

Statistics show the fairer sex volunteers slightly more, with 36% of women compared to 34% of men.

People aged in the 45-54-year-old group had the highest rate of volunteering.

Mr Hembury said volunteers came from different ages, backgrounds and professions.

"The value of volunteering cannot be overstated - (it) adds to a proud culture of giving in our society, contributing more to the economy than some high-profile industries," he said.


Joan Thompson has worked hard all her life and doesn't plan to stop.
Joan Thompson has worked hard all her life and doesn't plan to stop. Kirsten Cunningham

Volunteer with a heart of gold believes in hard work

JOAN Thompson is as tough as old nails, but her heart? Well, it's made of gold.

"I like working hard and when I couldn't work anymore I started volunteering," she said.

Now she volunteers at St Vinnies for two full days every week.

Mrs Thompson grew up on a dairy farm near Lismore, NSW, and says she started working as soon as she could walk.

"I was the second youngest of 13 kids and I grew up with my four older brothers," she said.

"We never had shoes and we knew the bush like the back of our hands."

She has worked all over Australia on properties cooking, wrangling cattle and doing farm work.

"My husband drove trucks and we went all over the place," she said.

"I love the bush and I loved working in it."

She said life in the outback was tough for a woman back then, and she had to stand her ground.

"I was cooking once for a group of 30 men, and a few of them were giving me a hard time," she said.

"So I put a few drops of epsom salts in their scrambled eggs and that was the end of it."

She said when it took them two hours extra to drive home because of the diarrhoea, she knew justice had been served.

"They were mean and they got what they deserved," she said. "We had a good laugh about that one!"

Mrs Thompson has always been independent and when her husband died 12 years ago she was determined to keep doing her own thing.

"I've volunteered at St Vinnies for eight years and now I work two full days a week," she said.

"I also take clothes home to repair on my days off," she said.

"I believe in working hard and age isn't going to slow me down."

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