Last month, Bundanoon’s Thomas-Andrew Baxter retired from his position as president of the Wingecarribee Volunteer Centre (VolWing).
After six years of management, Mr Baxter decided it was his time to bow out.
With a decades-long background in executive and senior management positions in commerce, government and not-for-profit sectors, Mr Baxter had recently become disillusioned with the state of community volunteering.
Before the community rallied together to save VolWing in October this year, the centre was facing dissolution because of a lack of funding and public interest.
“It goes without saying that the volunteer sector is severely underfunded,” Mr Baxter said.
“The reality is we all have far too much to do with far too limited resources.
“If we aren’t careful, we are going to have major problems with community volunteer services because volunteering has dropped drastically in the last few years.”
Mr Baxter said his last ditch effort to save the volunteering hub ended in disappointment.
“More than a year ago we noticed the trend. We tried to get funding for market research to work out why this was happening and try to find solutions. But no one would fund us,” he said.
If we aren’t careful, we are going to have major problems with community volunteer services.Thomas-Andrew Baxter
“That was the last straw for me.” VolWing is now supported by a steering committee, and will continue for at least a year.
But aside from his professional achievements, Mr Baxter also leads a meaningful life outside the not-for-profit sector.
An avid gardener, he tends to one acre of greenery in Bundanoon.
So well in fact that it was once chosen to appear on ABC’s Gardening Australia. This hobby, Mr Baxter said, “feeds his soul”.
And perhaps less predictably, he is also an amateur actor.
Part of the Clash Test Theatre group in Bundanoon, Mr Baxter said he is drawn to acting for the creativity and mental stimulation.
“I like it for two reasons. Firstly, I like to test myself and to see what it takes me to do it. And secondly, it’s an activity to keep my mind active.”
And what’s next for Mr Baxter?
“I am thinking of moving back to Scotland,” he said. “I’ll be going over there soon to see if I can find somewhere to live again.”