City of Ballarat Young Volunteer of the Year
Jody Dontje, the founder of the Help Nepal Appeal was named Young Volunteer of the Year at the recent City of Ballarat Youth Awards. The award capped off a big month for Jody as she was also awarded the “Outstanding Community Contribution Award” at the FedUni Leadership Awards and recognised as AIME mentor of the year – all in the month of October!
During the past 4 years whilst studying at Federation University, Jody has been involved in a range of Volunteer roles – Mentoring Indigenous children through AIME, supporting the English Language Development of Migrant/Refugee students, coaching Basketball and tutoring in local schools – amongst others. She has been so effective in these roles that she is regularly asked to train others and has featured as a guest speaker at several events at Uni and within the wider community.
Having volunteered in Nepal in December 2014, when the earthquakes hit in April, Jody naturally wanted to do something to help. That something turned into the Help Nepal Appeal – a fundraising initiative which has at the time of writing just passed the $10,000 mark.
She has relentlessly pounded the streets of Ballarat (and further afield), putting donations tins in local businesses and negotiating raffle prizes. She has brought staff and students on-campus (and businesses and community members) together around a common cause through her personal story, her love for what she does and her ceaseless enthusiasm. In addition to the hours she has put in herself, Jody has recruited and led a team of student volunteers to run events, spread the word about the appeal and has demonstrated great skill and sensitivity in promoting her cause – a skill that all great volunteer coordinators possess. The Help Nepal Appeal now has outposts in Geelong, St Arnaud and The Northern Territory thanks to Jody’s skill at mobilising her network around the cause. Jody is a remarkable young woman and everything we as a society look for in our young leaders – tireless, passionate, humble and a great communicator – a fantastic role model to anyone working within the volunteering space.