Jennifer receives OAM for service to Gladstone community
“You hear people say that once you reach a certain age, especially with women, you start to become invisible,” Vinnies volunteer Jennifer Barry said.
“Well, as an active volunteer, I do not feel invisible.”
Jennifer’s 20+ years of service to the Gladstone community recently earned her national recognition when she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
The news came as an unexpected surprise for the 76-year old, who dedicates time each week to sorting donations at the Gladstone Vinnies Shop, reading to kids at her local Catholic school and organising food hampers for people in need.
“I feel very lucky to receive that kind of recognition,” she said.
“To be honest, my reasoning for volunteering is mostly a selfish one – I just really enjoy it!
“It’s never felt like a chore at all; after volunteering for so many decades, I honestly could not imagine my life without it.”
Jennifer said growing up in the small rural mining town of Baralaba, population of about 300 people, helped her realise the value of looking after each other.
“If we all look after our communities, it makes for a healthier community,” she said.
“I’ve learnt it doesn’t take a lot to put a smile on people’s faces.
“If nothing else, I want to encourage more people to consider volunteering – even just an hour a week can easily make a difference.”