Community fills the heart of Gail Zunker who was awarded Senior Citizen of the Year in the Bundaberg Region's 2023 Australia Day Awards.
Born and bred in Bundaberg, Gail has been described as someone who goes above and beyond to help those in need.
She spends her free time volunteering with the Bundaberg Community Services Group, a non-for-profit organisation that is available to assist any other non-for-profit groups with fundraising ventures, catering and much more.
Those who know Gail describe her as caring and calm and always willing to “get the job done”.
Most importantly, Gail has always been known to put other people’s needs before her own.
“The Bundaberg Community is extremely important to me,” she said.
“Everything I have done during the years has always needed community support.
“We have had so much support, in all of the organisations I have been in, from the community.
“It’s important that they give to us and we give back to them.”
Gail has always loved supporting the community, with her volunteering journey starting in 1979 when she joined the Lions Club.
It was the beginning of a passion for helping people and a love for giving back that spurred Gail to join many more groups as the years went on.
“I’m normally a background person and I work with the team,” Gail said modestly.
“I have been volunteering for a really, really long time.”
Gail was involved in the inception of Meals on Wheels in Bundaberg and she has been a member for the past 34 years.
“I was a Lioness for a lot of years; I work with the vision impaired; I work with the Talking Newspaper and I work with Meals on Wheels,” Gail said.
“I am now with a fabulous group called The Bundaberg Community Support Group and we work for any not-for-profit organisation that needs personnel to help them with anything they do for the community.
“I love it, I love my clients – especially the vision impaired they just have so much oomph and positivity.
“Meals on Wheels – I am a sandwich maker – we make about 25,000 rounds of sandwiches for our clients every year.
“So I am expert on bread and filings and everything by now.
“We have been doing that for our clients for about three-and-a-half years.
“Meals on Wheels has a couple of hundred volunteers, so as I said I am one of a really, really big team of volunteers.
“Bundaberg has a huge amount of volunteers and that’s something we should be really, really proud of – not just Bundaberg but the outlying areas as well.”
Gail said through the decades of her volunteering in the community she had witnessed a number of highlights which included helping to establish a home base for the Cancer Fund, now known as Queensland Cancer Council.
“I was with them for about 25 years, we were fundraising in education.
“There was no permanent office in Bundaberg then, we were all volunteers and we were all a family and there’s nothing we didn’t do.
“We did Terry Fox Run, Daffodil Day, Biggest Morning Tea, the door knock collection.”
Gail was one of four awardees celebrated at this year's Bundaberg Regional Council-run awards, which recognises the actions and abilities of groups and individuals that have enhanced the social connectivity of the community through personal contribution or through an event that has added value and enjoyment to the lives of others.