Shepparton’s Sam Atukorala cannot put a timeframe on how many hours he spends volunteering.
Involved with more community organisations than he can count on one hand, Mr Atukorala was recently recognised for the countless hours he spends volunteering across Victoria.
Attending the Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards ceremony on Sunday, Mr Atukorala accepted an award in the service category and said he was honoured and humbled to receive the recognition.
‘‘This is not an award for me, it’s an award for everybody that supports me,’’ he said.
‘‘It is good recognition for the community I’m living in and the organisations I work with.’’
Raised in Sri Lanka, Mr Atukorala said volunteering was something he had been brought up to do.
‘‘Volunteering, to me, is part of my culture,’’ he said.
‘‘I love helping people and volunteering comes naturally to me.’’
Mr Atukorala, who moved to Australia in 2000, said he combined his skills in financial management with his interest in community development, particularly the needs of new and emerging communities, as well as youth mentoring and leadership.
He spent several years looking after the needs of international students before moving to Shepparton in 2013 when his ‘‘volunteering went to the next level’’.
‘‘I was asked if I’d like to do volunteering tutoring,’’ he said.
‘‘That was my first connection to the Shepparton community and it led me to my job at the Ethnic Council.’’
As project co-ordinator at Shepparton’s Ethnic Council, Mr Atukorala promotes and represents the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of ethnic communities in the Goulburn Valley.
The recognition from the premier had Mr Atukorala awarded for his involvement in several organisations including Greater Shepparton City Council, Bourchier St Primary School, GV Health, Victoria Police’s Blue Ribbon Foundation, AFL Diversity Program, Cricket Victoria, the Buddhist Association of the Goulburn Valley and Multicultural Arts Victoria.
‘‘This is not an individual achievement,’’ he said.
‘‘There are a lot of people who help me to do what I love to do.’’
Mr Atukorala especially thanked his wife and two sons.
‘‘They sacrifice a lot of husband and dad time to encourage me to do what I love to do,’’ he said.