24 May 2023

Super volunteer Heather not letting the grass grow under her feet in retirement

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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woman sitting on rock

Heather Littlejohn is involved with several organisations as a volunteer, secretary and treasurer. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Heather Littlejohn has spent most of her life dedicating her time to whatever form of volunteering work she can.

Heather is involved with Rocky Hill Reserve Regeneration Project, Red Cross, Lifeblood, the tennis club as secretary, and a bushwalking club as treasurer.

She lives close to the hill and uses the area for walking, and when the project to regenerate came along, she became interested in chipping in.

Heather said the volunteer work at Rocky Hill was rewarding as she could see the growth of the little trees and the small mark she had left.

With Lifeblood, Heather volunteers a few hours a week to make milkshakes and help prepare the food people have donated.

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She wears the hat as an emergency services support person with Red Cross and is trained to assist in an evacuation centre or recovery hub after a disaster.

“We’ve done psychological first aid, we’re not counsellors. We do not counsel,” she said.

“We assist other agencies in helping their organisation with the set-up and running of those centres.

“And we have a chat, where we’re good listeners and link people to other support agencies to assist.”

The retiree said she had been busy supporting emergency services in the past few years as the region was hit with bushfires and floods.

She can also be deployed to other regions around the state if she wishes, to help out with recovery efforts.

The former school teacher is also involved with Red Cross projects as a trainer, guiding people coming into her role.

woman tending to bushland

Former school teacher Heather is a Rocky Hill Regeneration Project volunteer, one of the rewarding roles that keep her busy in retirement. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

With her skills as a former teacher, she was also trained to become a facilitator.

Heather said her administrative positions with the tennis bushwalking clubs were vital to all community groups, as without someone to fill those roles, organisations could not exist.

“It doesn’t matter what position you hold … you’re helping those clubs to keep them going with their role.”

Heather said volunteering had allowed her to meet people with similar interests.

“I’ve met many people in the neighbourhood who aren’t direct neighbours of mine,” she said.

“With volunteering, you give up your time, but you receive so much more back.

“I have a very large social group, but it’s nice always to meet others doing something for your community.”

Heather believes community service gives back much more than she puts in.

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“I can give up my time, pick up a shovel up on the Rocky Hill, I can type up something at a meeting or I can do the books … it’s not that difficult,” she said.

“You just make up that time to do the work, but to have an organisation like our bushwalking club running is great.

“There’s a like-minded, diverse group of people who wish to get out and have some walks organised.”

Born and raised in Wagga, Heather lived in Sydney to pursue her tertiary education and taught in western NSW before eventually moving back to Wagga.

“I wasn’t here for six or seven years and I came back to Wagga,” she said.

When she isn’t volunteering, Heather is the best aunt to all her nieces and nephews and takes care of her elderly mother.

Heather said she had volunteered in various positions for many years, but since retiring, she had been able to give more time to helping others.

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