Two very special people in Parkes have been honoured with life membership after selflessly giving their time to the St Vincent de Paul Society for more than three decades.
During a luncheon at the Vinnies premises in Parkes to celebrate National Volunteer Week on May 22, the two volunteers, Pat Byrne and Michael Lynch, were recognised for 35 and 36 years' service respectively.
Fellow volunteers Betty Ackroyd (30 years) and Sister Marie Barker (10 years) were also recognised at the gathering for their years of service.
National Volunteer Week, which runs from May 20-26, is the annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of the country's six million volunteers.
"Wilcannia Forbes Central Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society are proud to present Michael Lynch and Pat Byrne, both of Parkes, with life membership and service awards for their amazing dedication to the mission of the Society," Central Council executive officer Kelly Morgan said at the lunch.
"We put in a nomination into the state council and it goes to the CEO."
Pat is an active volunteer with Vinnies, holding the roles of centre vice president, day coordinator, and treasurer.
Parkes centre president, Barbara Scott, described Pat as "just terrific" and said she couldn't manage without her.
Kelly said Pat is very passionate about Vinnies and the great service it provides to the community of Parkes.
"She volunteers at the centre two days per week and also attends all meetings and offers suggestions to improve the way we work," she said.
"Pat is a very caring lady who has given so much time to Vinnies while raising and continuing to care for her family.
"The Society is very fortunate to have had Pat volunteering with us through these years and is so very deserving of this life-time recognition."
Pat, who's a mother of 12, said her volunteering was her break from the farm.
"That was my Wednesday," she laughed.
"Things have changed so much since I first started.
"I'm flabbergasted, I knew about the 35 years' service but the life membership was really a big surprise."
Over the years Pat has pushed for members of the Society (those involved in conference) and its volunteers to be classed under the same name - Vincentians.
"Vincentians has always been a bugbear of mine," she said.
"Some of us are fingers, some of us are arms, some of us legs, but we're all part of the one body.
"It's like a building, you can have a single brick at the bottom that helps to hold the building up - everybody plays a part."
Michael originally joined the Society in Ireland in 1961 and was active there and in Australia until 1992 when he had to stop due to work and family commitments. He then rejoined the Society in 2014.
He is a member of the Holy Family Conference in Parkes, providing assistance and support to people experiencing hardship.
He is an active member of the Central Council, representing Society members in an area covering half of NSW, in the areas of social justice and spirituality.
Michael has also been very active in providing drought assistance with the Society since August 2018. During this time he has made more than 1000 farm visits and a similar number of phone calls in providing both financial and emotional support.
Kelly said he is an extremely passionate and dedicated member of the Society.
For a humble Michael, it's never been about the rewards or recognition.
"It's overwhelming and under deserved," he said of the life membership.
"You don't do it for the reward...you just do it.
"I understand it's the recognition and I appreciate that."
Michael's wife Peg said he would be very lost without the Society and that the charity was very close to his heart.
There are 95 Vincentians based at Parkes, all who Kelly congratulated for their hard work over the last 12 months at the lunch.
She said Vinnies made $230,000 in sales in Parkes, with these funds going to providing for those in need in Parkes.