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Mrs Flo Young of the Sapphire Coast Parish won the Anglicare Australia Volunteer Achievement Award at this years’ Anglicare Australia awards held in Perth Western Australia. She outdid ten other short-listed nominees and received the Anglicare Australia Volunteer Achievement  Award from The Primate whilst in Perth on Monday 9 September 2019. This award acknowledges Flo’s commitment of 25 years volunteering and running the Anglicare Sapphire Surprises Op Shop and Emergency Relief in Eden, NSW. During that time she has kept the business running, supported the parish and assisted countless individuals and families doing it tough in the Eden region.

Flo was invested as an Honorary Lay Canon at Synod in September 2015, recognised for her contribution to the church and ongoing ministry role. But this is only part of Flo’s story. Flo has always been involved in her local community. Her faith and beliefs that ‘we are not just here for ourselves’ drives much of what Flo does. She runs Sapphire Surprises in Eden, operating not only the shop, but also working with her team of volunteers providing emergency relief to those in the community who are in need of emergency assistance.

Flo’s work in the shop ‘gives her purpose’ and stems from an enjoyment of being able to help others. The provision of emergency relief, such as pantry items, and assistance with utility bills in times of financial crises, makes a significant difference in the lives of the individuals who are helped.

However, when you talk to Flo, you can see that she wants to do more than provide just emergency relief. She dreams of being able to help those in long term crisis move beyond just coping, to actually being able to get on top of the bills, and develop skills to be able to manage their finances on a long-term basis.

Eden is one of the most disadvantaged regional communities in New South Wales. It is half-way between Sydney and Melbourne and has a large itinerant population with many people out of work.

Flo has made a tangible difference in the quality of individuals’ and families’ lives. Her judicious management of the service has kept it sustainable, keeping the doors open for families who need help and enabling the service to gain recurrent government funding. Flo has managed the Anglicare Sapphire Surprises operation competently over the past 25 years.

Flo’s role involves management of the thriving community shopfront but she also provides emergency relief to vulnerable members of the community as well as pastoral care to volunteers and shoppers. We deeply appreciate Flo’s dedicated service to Anglicare NSW South, NSW West and ACT and the Eden community.

Over the years, Flo has demonstrated strong leadership ability and responded to changing requirements and growth in the provision of emergency relief services. Her independence and well-respected role in the community has facilitated the growth of the service and increased linkages with the parish. Flo’s leadership extends to providing pastoral care to her volunteers as well as regular customers at the shop. This is a valuable role, ensuring that community members who might otherwise be isolated feel connected and welcome to drop in for a chat.

‘Volunteers like Flo are the soul of places like Sapphire Surprises shop. Being dedicated and involved in the community is an important part of who Flo is. She quietly gets things done without fuss and always with a smile. She is willing to stretch her abilities to try new and improved systems but also able to say no when necessary. I respect her compassion for people in need and her willingness to help others,’ said Kaye Pritchard, former Manager of Anglicare Retail Development.

Volunteers such as Flo are essential for the delivery of services in many parishes. Without dedicated volunteers like Flo, Anglicare would not be able to work effectively with parishes to deliver vital services to people in need.

Submitted by Anglicare