VOLUNTEERING can make as much difference to your own life as it does to the lives of those you are helping. No one knows this more than Queanbeyan City Councillor Trudy Taylor, who was named the 2014 Monaro Local Woman of the Year this week.
Cr Taylor was recognised for her long standing support for community organisations including SIDS and Kids where she has been a volunteer for nine years.
The organisation is one that is close to her heart after she and husband Shane received its support following the death of their two children.
"Sadly our first child was stillborn and our second child died when she was two and half hours old," Cr Taylor, 46, said.
"We received support from SIDS and Kids at the time of their deaths that was in 2005 and 2006. From that I realised the value of the organisation. It had a personal impact on us and it's just a way of giving back."
Cr Taylor first began helping by selling charity bits and bobs and helping at fundraising events. She is now involved with foster care and also works part time for the organisation as their funding and communications officer.
"Shane and I tried to have a family and it didn't work. It wasn't meant to be for us. We looked at going through the adoption system and we've been trying to adopt for about seven years," Cr Taylor said.
"Two and a half or three years ago…[someone] asked if I would consider adoption through foster care."
The Taylors began providing foster respite care about two years ago and moved on to permanent care about a year ago.
They were fortunate to be chosen as foster carers for a four-year-old boy.
"Around Christmas time he started calling us mummy and daddy and for all intensive purposes he's pretty much our child. I don't know how long he'll stay with us for. It could be a few more months, it could be permanently," she said.
"With foster care you can't plan anything, things change very quickly. He has brought a lot of headaches, pain and angst but also brought an amazing amount of joy to our family.
"He gives as much to us, as we give to him."
The award also recognised Cr Taylor's commitment to local government.
She was elected to council in 2008 and is currently serving her second term.
She said she was surprised and embarrassed to receive the award and attributes her love for community service and volunteering to her grandparents.
"You don't do what you do for accolades or awards. You just do it because you believe in what you're doing and you're passionate about it," she said.
"There have been studies to show that if you go out and volunteer in your community there are tremendous affects on your own mental health and wellbeing. It makes you feel good…
"If you've got something that you're passionate about, do it."
Related story: 2014 Member for Monaro Community Service Awards