23 May 2020 | Tennis West

More than 70 tennis loving children are proving to be the biggest winners in the small regional town of Brunswick Junction, thanks to the dedication and efforts of volunteer extraordinaire and local resident Julianne Hill and her committee.

Championed by the theme ‘Changing Communities. Changing Lives’, the upcoming National Volunteer Week will see Hill’s tireless efforts recognised and celebrated throughout the week of May 18-24.

As a longstanding volunteer of the Brunswick Tennis Club, current Club President and winner of the 2019 Tennis West Volunteer Achievement Award, Hill has been the driving force of the club for some years. Responsible for a number of successful grant applications, Hill and past president Cindy Power were instrumental in securing funds for the resurfacing of the club’s four hard courts, installation of a new hit-up wall and the engagement of new club coach, Sam Galati.

Yet grants, facilities and services aside, Hill seems to understand better than most that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference when it comes to creating a welcoming and vibrant club community. Renowned for turning up to the club with birthday cakes, end of season gifts and personal notes attached to each child’s trophy, Hill seems to take her far reaching impact all in her stride.

‘It’s about seeing kids shine when they may be a bit troubled in other parts of their lives. It’s about lifting a kid up to help them be part of the group even though they might not think they fit but actually they do’

‘When I see more than 60 kids turning up to junior tennis in the middle of summer when it’s over 40 degrees, I know that what we do is something really important and worthwhile’

‘It all of it adds up to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling even though it’s not all plain sailing,’ Hill said.

Club Secretary Tanya Musitano says that the small country town of just 770 residents, has some 86 members, including upward of 70 juniors. Claiming that the club is incredibly fortunate to have Hill at the helm of the club. Musitano says Hill goes above and beyond to ensure the club’s thriving operation, with a keen interest focussed on keeping the younger kids interested and the teenagers motivated.

‘Julianne’s dedication and commitment to our club is mind-blowing, especially given that she runs her own farm with her husband, often clocks up more than a 1000 kms a week for work and no longer has children of her own who play junior tennis,’

‘From club registrations and open days, to coaching assistance, club marketing, grounds maintenance and the organising of end of year tournaments; Julianne even cooks the sausages after game days at the club,’

‘Thanks to Julianne’s efforts in securing a club coach, the kid’s tennis skills have improved considerably because they’re now divided across age and ability groups,’

‘Julianne joins in with the weekly coaching sessions and regularly hits with the kids, providing plenty of encouragement along the way,’

‘Wanting even more for the kids, Julianne and Cindy advertised for a volunteer assistant coach who’s a student from one of the local schools,’

‘The older kids can now serve and have a proper rally, which has made such a positive difference to their tennis and improved their love of the game,’

‘And not only does Julianne encourage the kids to enter tournaments, she quite often sends a text message or gives a phone call the next day asking how they went and if they had fun,’ Musitano said.

And the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, means Hill doesn’t stand to do this all on her own, creating an equally welcoming environment to the hard working committee of which she leads, which includes an official position of Chief Champagne Pourer. And it seems now more than ever, Hill’s ability to change the lives of children and adults alike, has never been more fortified.

‘As it’s something that I have always been a part of, I hadn’t realized until just recently that volunteering is sometimes hard for people to take that first step into,’

‘In the last two years I have had two amazing new volunteers come on the scene that didn’t have any idea how to go about joining or becoming more involved in some of the groups I am part of,’

‘One of the ladies is an amazing resource. I’d advertised in the local paper asking for a volunteer boy or girl wonder, specifically noting that the committee needed amazing people. She’s already taken a lead within the committee and is so much more confident,’

‘Another lady had two kids in junior tennis but hadn’t taken any steps to be part of the tennis club herself, so I invited her along to a committee meeting where we were talking about a catering job. Turns out she is an amazing cook,’

‘She later told me that she almost turned around on the way to the meeting as she had been feeling really nervous and she didn’t think she had anything to contribute. Now I think we’ll have another committee member, as she particularly loved seeing that we had a Chief Champagne Pourer on our committee,’ Hill said.

Noting Hill’s fervent capacity to build and strengthen relationships with both the young and old, she also delivers on cross-organisation and club collaboration connections throughout the Brunswick community to ensure that everyone benefits, which according to Musitano, strengthens the club’s presence within the community.

‘Leading into the hit-up wall installation, Julianne spent time building relationships with the manager and grounds people of the Community Resource Centre next door. This meant we were able to work together in funding the project,’

‘The tennis club is involved in the local ANZAC Day ceremony where Julianne and some of the junior tennis players lay the wreath on behalf of the club, and just last year we held a fundraiser at the Harvey Brunswick Leschenault Football Club where we ran a Christmas in July function,’

‘It all adds up to us building a great rapport within our community,’ Musitano said.

Inspired by what Hill claims to be an innate desire to help others and do something to give back, it seems that the  Brunswick Tennis Club aren’t the only ones to have benefited from Hill’s unwavering commitment which began at the Jerramungup Pony Club when she was just 15. Since then, Hill has given her time to countless organisations and community groups including the Red Cross, Ravensthorpe Junior Hockey Club, Ravensthorpe Tennis Club, Brunswick Cricket Club, Brunswick Agricultural Society, and HBL Junior Football Club. And as it stands, Hill says her passion for volunteering only continues to intensify.

‘The best thing about volunteering is getting a bloody buzz out of seeing kids happy and engaged – and getting some healthy cheek back from them,’

‘I love seeing these kids later on after a few years away from my view and they still have a chat to me in an easy and comfortable way. I hope that one of the things that volunteering does, is that it enables kids to feel like that they can talk to an adult without feeling censure, especially when they are much older and cooler and with their mates, that they can still talk to us,’

‘In most ways, volunteering isn’t at all about me, but about the people we can help or provide an outlet for. It’s changed my life because I have found that despite my family being the most important people in my life, life is bigger than all of us,’

‘Volunteering is something that I feel more strongly about as I get older and if I had more time and money, I would do much more of it. It’s bloody amazing and is something that everybody should have a crack at. The buy-in will bring so much pleasure to your life,’ Hill said.

Tennis West CEO Michael Roberts applauded Julianne and the countless volunteers, recognising them for the collective dedication to the delivery of tennis and proficient running of clubs across by metropolitan and regional WA.

‘Without a doubt our volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport, without them we simply couldn’t operate or deliver on our projects, programs and pathways,’

‘Australia wide, more than 5.8 million volunteers are estimated to collectively contribute more than 743 million voluntary hours to the community and we know that many of those hours are at the hands of the hard working volunteers in our clubs,’

‘We are enormously indebted to our volunteers and look forward to celebrating their efforts virtually throughout National Volunteers Week,’

Facilitated by Volunteering Australia, the 2020 National Volunteers Week will this year be a virtual celebration of Australia’s volunteers.

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