COUNTLESS hours of hard work were recognised last week when thousands of volunteers were celebrated across the Hunter Region.
Samaritans were just one of many local organisations to pay tribute to their volunteers as part of National Volunteers Week (May 12 to 18), hosting a morning tea at the Kailo Centre in Islington.
Samaritans has more than 600 volunteers on its books throughout the Hunter and the Central Coast, who volunteer in emergency relief, disaster recovery and in Samaritans' retail shops.
This year's celebrations also coincided with the Samaritans' 30th birthday.
Samaritans started in 1984 with a handful of volunteers who looked after an emergency relief centre, family and disability support and an op shop.
Retail co-ordinator Pauline Sellers said she would be lost without the help of her volunteers, and was happy to break bread with them.
"It's a real celebration and acknowledgement of the great work our volunteers do," she said. "We also get a lot of good donations from the public, which helps our cause."
Samaritans runs shops in Hamilton, Mayfield and Wallsend, with all profits raised used to fund community programs. These include the Friendship House for men coming out of prison, the Grandparents As Parents kinship program, and emergency relief.
New volunteers are always needed, and can inquire at one of the shops.