AUSTRALIA DAY: A day of honouring our selfless heroes

HELPING a refugee learn to drive, delivering meals on wheels and assisting senior citizens with their dogs are just some of the selfless deeds that yesterday earned Glenn Mackinnon the accolade of Wodonga’s citizen of the year.
The father of two spends up to six hours each week doing voluntary work and yesterday implored others to follow his example.
Mr Mackinnon was presented with his award at Wodonga’s Australia Day breakfast at Les Stone Park.
“I’m very embarrassed to be here,” he told the gathering.
“I look around today and I could probably easily see half a dozen people that are more worthy than I to receive this wonderful award.”
Mr Mackinnon, 52, said his late father’s diagnosis with motor neurone disease and his sister’s battle with schizophrenia had provided the inspiration for his voluntary work, which has spanned three decades.
He has been a client services manager with a focus on those with disabilities at Lavington’s Mercy Centre since 2008 after having been a bank manager.
Mr Mackinnon said his shift from finance to care had been inspired by wanting to pursue a career “more in line with my personal values”.
He told the audience yesterday of how teaching Bhutanese refugee Durga Gurung to drive impressed on him the value of volunteering.
“This young lady had not seen a car before, like many Bhutanese,” Mr Mackinnon said.
“She had spent 18 years in a refugee camp with no running water and no electricity, imagine that.
“Today Durga has a licence, she drives, she has a job and she is making a wonderful contribution to her own people.
“When she’s not working in the aged care sector, for which she does a wonderful job, she is out there driving her Bhutanese folk around to appointments and shopping centres.
“That’s what volunteering is all about — and I would encourage other Australians, other citizens of Wodonga, who aren’t volunteering at the moment, I say to you one hour of your time a week can make a significant difference to someone’s life and in doing so you will enrich your life.”
Mr Mackinnon, who praised his parents, wife Kathy and daughters Jessica, 22, and Sarah, 20, hopes to continue volunteering for another 30 years.
His resume includes being involved with Paw Pals, which helps the elderly look after their pets, the L2P driver mentoring scheme, which aids disadvantaged youth, and the Relay for Life cancer fund-raiser.
Mr Mackinnon has also served on the boards of Catholic College Wodonga, the Disability Advocacy and Information Service and Catholic Education Wodonga.

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