James Turner is a dedicated volunteer involved with various organisations, including Hervey Bay Youth Mentoring, The Pyjama Foundation, 50 & Better, and Steamfesta. Having dedicated a total of 16 years to these causes, he estimates contributing approximately 600 hours of his time, impacting the lives of around 15 individuals.

James’ journey into volunteering began in 1976 with youth-related activities in a YMCA summer camp in Victoria. Upon relocating to Hervey Bay in 2007, he discovered the Youth Mentoring Program through a local volunteering website, leading him to delve into the world of youth mentoring. As James puts it, “I accessed the volunteering website for the Wide Bay in 2007, the Youth Mentoring Program was listed, which I decided to follow-up. The rest is history.”

Reflecting on his impactful experiences, James highlights the emotional support he was providing to a Year 7 boy, demonstrated by this boy’s unexpected difficulty coping with his absence whilst on a six-week overseas holiday, emphasising the profound impact of consistent contact. The mentoring relationship extended beyond academic improvements, revealing the challenges faced by children from dysfunctional or abusive homes. These experiences have shaped James’ perspective, providing insight into the hardships faced by vulnerable youth.

A particular situation that left a lasting impression on James involved a boy entering the kinship/foster care system after a traumatic incident. These encounters underscore the importance of emotional support and mentorship in the lives of children facing adversity.

James’ advice for potential volunteers emphasises being open-minded, expecting the unexpected, and learning from experienced volunteers. He encourages future volunteers to be good listeners and, most importantly, to have fun.

Describing his volunteer journey in one word or phrase, James chooses “Enlightening, entertaining and rewarding.” This encapsulates the depth of his experiences, the joy found in unexpected moments, and the satisfaction derived from making a positive impact on the lives of others. James’ story serves as an inspiration, illustrating the transformative power of volunteering and the meaningful connections forged along the way.