Volunteer chats bring connections and new ideas

11 November, 2021

It’s been a tremendous year, Trail Blazers. But we also know it’s been hard the past few months. Which is why we’d we wanted to make up lost ground and check in with our 20+ volunteers before we took the break for Xmas. Zoom seemed so “Covid”, but it continues to help span the 50km or more between us along the path of the trail-to-be.

What stood out from our chats with our volunteers this week was the strong desire to connect. “People are ready to engage,” said CMRT’s Yapeen Community Ambassador, Jill Pattinson. “Everyone’s tired of being kept at a distance from one another…The time is right now for making connections.”

What that’s caused us to look at it is how post-lockdowns we can ramp up opportunities for social events. We’ll be starting with “pop up” events in Maryborough and Campbells Creek in the next fortnight. Plus, we’ll be getting out to Newstead in on December 5 to help celebrate the town’s Newstead on Show.

The same seniment from volunteers, will encourage CMRT to set up regular get togethers and check-ins for our volunteers. Volunteers like Newstead Community Ambassador Steve Foskey and Maryborough radio personality and council Grace La Vella backed bi-monthly or more frequent meetings for CMRT volunteers.

Another idea was finding more direct ways to engage  small business in the towns along the trail. “Helping small business really understand how they will benefit from the trail is going to be important,” one CMRT volunteer observed. “The forthcoming feasibility study will provide evidence about local economic impact – not just wishful thinking. That will be persuasive for small business.”

Another big idea from the volunteer talks was opening up informal CMRT Committee meetings to volunteers. “This has enormous potential to expand the range of talent we can bring to our problem solving,” CMRT Secretary Janice Simpson said. “Why wouldn’t we want to bring our volunteers – our most passionate members – into our our decision-making,” Janice said.

What a courageously democratic idea, Trail Blazers. And one we’ll be taking into January. Vive la CMRT!

P.S. Our volunteers also strongly support our forthcoming volunteer engagement and design workshops. The program has been funded by a community grant from Mount Alexander Shire Council. The program has been designed with Volunteering Victoria and will kick off in late January.