‘So overwhelmed’: Citizen of the Year calls for kindness
With tears comes triumphs - and that's absolutely the case for Cheryl Harris.
The Sunshine Coast woman was visibly shaken as she was awarded the Citizen of the Year at the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards on Friday.
"I'm just so overwhelmed and humbled," she said.
"It's such an honour and I'm absolutely in shock.
"Our community is such an important part of who we are and where we live and I think to be involved is incredible and so rewarding."
The Volunteering Sunshine Coast CEO has been a strong advocate for volunteers over the past 10 years.
Under her guidance volunteering has grown significantly throughout the region with around 64,000 volunteers today supporting the community in widely diverse fields.
"I would love to see that the organisation just goes from strength to strength, that we are able to get more sponsorship especially in relation to our disaster relations side," Ms Harris said.
"We've got a small office that opened last year in Caloundra as well as one in Maroochydore so it would be wonderful if we could stretch across to Noosa and Nambour - but like everyone we need more money."
Ms Harris has assisted people through the pathways to employment program and co-ordinated volunteers during a disaster event.
"When the new hospital started we provided 300 volunteers to help at Sunshine Coast University Hospital," she said.
"Every year we probably interview a minimum of around 3000 volunteers across the Coast and place them.
"Volunteers are really the salt of the earth, they are our social fabric of the community - without them there would be no organisation who would be able to survive."
During her speech Ms Harris also implored the audience to spread a bit of kindness in 2021.
"I think sometimes because of the busyness of life we sometimes forget to think about somebody else," she said.
"Everybody is in such a rush to get somewhere, we seem to have so much more aggression.
"People need to take a deep breath and be kind to others."