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Many good turns for Hunter volunteer gardener

For Emma Belenus you can’t put a price on the feeling she gets from volunteering.

Emma established the Artscape Garden about three years ago in a community housing development in suburban Newcastle as a way to encourage greater engagement, participation and social interaction between the local residents.

With the help of the residents, there are now gardens in almost every pocket of the development including a small rain forest, vegie patches and even a vertical garden.

Bits and pieces of recycled material are used to create rustic works of art throughout the yards – helping to draw people outdoors and create new bonds and friendships.

“The residents now come out and pick from the garden,” Emma said. “They share the spaces and relax, talk and work on projects together. They choose what area or projects to work on next.

“This sort of community engagement is worth so much in itself and adds so much to people living there.

“And for me, volunteering my time in the garden and seeing the good it does is a feeling you can’t find anywhere else.

“I could never put a price on it.”

Two years ago, Emma was a Hunter regional winner and state finalist in the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards. She says her nomination was one of the proudest moments of her life.

It’s time for you to thank your local volunteer by nominating them for a 2018 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award.

Go to www.volunteering.com.au/volunteer-awards