Aimee Caulfield has been helping youth at risk ever since she was one of them, now the 21 year old has been recognised after being named NSW Young Volunteer of the Year.
The Youth Insearch volunteer picked up the top gong at a ceremony in Sydney on Friday, and after taking up a full time role as Community Coordinator recently, used her time in the spotlight to shine a light on just how effective the Tamworth program is.
Ms Caulfield was once one of those troubled youths, before Youth Insearch “changed my life”, dedicating her time to doing the same for others ever since.
“I started volunteering because it was volunteers that helped get me through, and to become who I am today,” she said.
“When you volunteer, or give up even a little bit of your time to help others, it opens your eyes to another aspect of the world.
“You make the community a better place and have a real impact on someone else’s life, and even your own life.”
Growing up in Westdale Ms Caulfield has made no secrets of the battles she faced growing up – domestic violence, bullying, self harm and suicidal tendencies.
After “seeing every counsellor in Tamworth” without success Ms Caulfield was referred to Youth Insearch, a local program “led by other young people” and it turned her life around.
“I was looking at all these leaders who had been through the same sort of things I had been through.
“I was finding out how they dealt with it, and how they coped with it. I started using those people as role models.”
Now more than seven years later she is leading that program, and her mission is simple.
“There will always be a lot of kids in rural area that need support, or kids that we will find that need help – even if their parents, or carers, or sometimes even themselves don’t recognise that,” she said.
“We are never going to find everyone who needs help, but I want to get as close to that as physically possible.”
Local musician and educator Buddy Knox, and Tamworth Film and Sound archivist Ian Austin were also named as finalists at the NSW Awards.
Esteemed North Coast Aboriginal leader Wendy Dalton was named Adult Volunteer of the Year, while Glenhaven’s George Tillett took the Senior gong, and the Wellington Beyond Barbed Wire Mentors the Team category.