29 August 2023

Helpers of the homeless and migrant supporters: Wagga CWA honoured for making town a better place

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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group of women with an award

Proud Country Women’s Association Wagga Wagga branch members with their Volunteer Team of the Year Award. Photo: Dr Saba Nabi.

A team of volunteers who help bridge isolation, build healthy connections among residents and provide fundraising support has been recognised for its unwavering contribution to the community.

The Wagga branch of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) was named the Volunteer Team of the Year at this month’s NSW awards.

CWA president Cheryl Honey said the win was ”wonderful” and she was grateful for the branch’s acknowledgement.

“It was like a reward for things we continually do and never get rewarded for – not like we’re looking for the reward, but it was just wonderful,” Ms Honey said.

“We are in the state finals!

“I’m proud of the members. We’re only a small branch, so we’re very pleased.”

READ ALSO Riverina volunteer in the running for state award for his unwavering support of his community

Ms Honey said the CWA did a great deal of work for people experiencing homelessness at Wilks Park, with members knitting beanies, scarves, jumpers and socks.

“We also donated some tents and set it up for them to live over there [Wilks Parks],” she said.

“Some of us slept rough with them to know and understand what it’s like to be homeless.”

Ms Honey said the CWA, at its roots, was about kindness, sharing and looking after one another.

“We look after other people in the community and they learn things like cooking and sewing,” she said.

Wagga CWA publicity officer Dr Saba Nabi submitted the branch’s nomination at the last moment.

man presenting woman with award

Dr Saba Nabi receives the award from Independent Member for Wagga Dr Joe McGirr. Photo: Supplied.

“I wasn’t sure whether we’d succeed, but I thought, ‘Let’s give it a try’,” Dr Nabi said.

She said the recognition was exciting and humbling.

The branch was always looking for new members, she said.

“We really want diversity in our membership, and we’re always open to the young member,” Dr Nabi said. ”My daughter is also part of CWA as a young member.

“It’s important [for migrants and refugees] to join any organisation and volunteer because migrants feel homesick and isolated when they first arrive in an alien country.

“When you join some organisation, you get to know the culture and tradition more and find people help you a lot.”

As a mother of a 13-year-old and a 13-month-old, Dr Nabi has had unwavering support from the CWA.

“They are like an extended family, and I don’t have to think twice before I say anything,” she said.

READ ALSO Wagga’s first female paramedic thrilled women make up more than half of NSW Ambulance ranks

Dr Nabi said there was a misconception that people of colour were not welcomed into community organisations, and she had never felt any hostility and found people had been warm-hearted.

She encouraged other organisations to submit their nominations for future awards.

The Wagga branch will focus on neurodiversity and neurodivergent conditions during this year’s CWA Awareness Week, from 3-9 September.

Neurodiversity and neurodivergent conditions include ADHD, autism, dyslexia and Tourette syndrome.

During the awareness week, the CWA will host an afternoon tea and games on Wednesday, 6 September, from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Wagga rooms.

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