Farewelling a dedicated volunteer

By Dylan Arvela

Camellia Blackley has called it day after nearly four decades of volunteering in the Cobram community.

Ms Blackley’s work for the Cobram Support and Information Service, a service she helped found as the Cobram Citizen’s Advice Bureau in 1981, was recognised at a lunch at the Barry Franklin building on Friday.

Ms Blackley has been a key figure at the service, which helps locals in need of support — be it food vouchers through to helping to pay bills.

Her determination to improve the lives of others saw Ms Blackley named a Rotary Club Citizen of Distinction in 1996 and Cobram Citizen of the Year in 2012.

Ms Blackley was overwhelmed but said supporting her community had given her more than she had given it.

‘‘I am just so grateful, I think this is so special for this to be put on for me and I really don’t feel as if I deserve it,’’ she said.

‘‘It is hard to let it go but I am privileged to have been a part of the CBA for 38 years because I think giving back to your community is the most important thing anyone can do.

‘‘You get back more than you can ever give and it gives you a real sense of self-worth.

‘‘If you haven’t got volunteers and people working in the community, you have a really shallow community — Cobram is a very caring community.’’

Ms Blackley encouraged people interested in volunteering to contact CSIS, which offers initial and ongoing training to its volunteers.

Close friend and fellow CSIS volunteer Heather Barrie spoke at the event about the history of the service.

Ms Barrie spoke about how the CSIS had to find innovative ways to make ends meet, before an emotional acknowledgement of Ms Blackley’s career.

‘‘To Cam thank you for your friendship, for all your great service to the community, you will be greatly missed,’’ she said.

Moira Shire Councillor and former CSIS volunteer Gary Cleveland also spoke, calling Ms Blackley and Ms Barrie ‘‘living treasures,’’ adding, ‘‘this service would have died a long time ago had it not been for these two ladies.’’

●Anyone interested in volunteering for the CSIS is encouraged to contact 5871 1085.