Organisation: Dignity Ltd.

The 78 volunteer cooks and drivers at Dignity Dishes epitomize the value that volunteering brings to the community and to each and every volunteer themselves.

Each week they turn food recovered by OzHarvest into thousands of lovingly cooked meals that are distributed to 27 homes managed by homelessness charity Dignity. The homes provide short-term crisis accommodation to hundreds of men, women and children across NSW each night.  Refrigerated vans take the meals to homes across Sydney, the South Coast and Queanbeyan.

More than one tonne of food is delivered to Dignity’s three distribution centres in Parramatta, Hornsby and Nowra each week, where it’s picked up by the volunteers and prepared into nutritious meals.

“The food doesn’t just fill our bellies, it nourishes the soul,” according to one Dignity guest.

The team expects to make 150,000 home cooked meals this year that are ready to defrost, heat and eat.

The volunteers have formed their own online community where they share recipes, stories and even compete for made-up titles. Husbands and wives, parents and children, and whole families come together to cook, knowing the value it brings to people without a home and experiencing severe stress and hardship.

Photos of the NSW Volunteer of the Year State Ceremony are kindly supplied by Michael Mannington, Volunteer Photography, and are available to view here.  Photos taken by Susan White of Corporate Digital,, are available here.

The Awards are in their 13th year and are an annual program run by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding work of volunteers across NSW. They have grown to become one of the largest celebrations of volunteering across the country.

The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said the Awards helped uncover so many incredible stories of community achievement and goodwill across every corner of the state.

“We hold these Awards to recognise the special effort made by people who choose to go above and beyond to help others and their local community,” Ms Rygate said.

“They also highlight the contribution of all our volunteers and the organisations they represent. The awards give us the opportunity to hear their stories, be inspired by their actions and pass on our thanks.

“There is no better job, than being able to meet these special volunteers and celebrate their contribution.”

The 2019 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards are supported by principal partners the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and ClubsNSW, which represents the state’s 1,400 not-for-profit clubs. They are also supported by Mint Awards and Thrifty Car & Truck Rentals.

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards were an important way to recognise the contribution of the 2.1 million volunteers working throughout NSW.

“Each and every one of today’s award recipients epitomise service above self,” Mr Ward said.

“Across the state, valuable volunteers are helping create stronger communities by generously dedicating countless hours to causes close to their heart.

“We can all learn a lot from hearing your stories and I congratulate all of you on your outstanding community service.”

ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball said that volunteers were the backbone of registered clubs.

“On behalf of an industry which relies upon 32,000 volunteers, I congratulate all of these deserving winners,” said Mr Ball.

“ClubsNSW is proud to be a principal partner of these awards, which recognise the huge contribution that volunteers make across the state.

“Clubs rely on volunteers to help make their venues a great place to socialise, which in turn adds billions of dollars to the NSW economy every year.”