VOLUNTEERS across the region will commemorate their contributions to the community at a number of National Volunteer Week events next week.
One organisation recognising the efforts of its volunteers is the Wimmera Southern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN) through its MATES program.
The program provides mentors to students at both primary and secondary level.
It is one of many programs the Wimmera Southern Mallee LLEN runs.
A celebratory lunch is at the Wimmera Southern Mallee LLEN office in Horsham on Monday from noon.
A brainstorming session will be conducted following the lunch to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the volunteer program.
Vanessa O'Loughlin, a project officer and member of the MATES mentoring team, said the event would help shine a spotlight on volunteering in the Wimmera.
"The MATES mentoring lunch is two fold. It is to celebrate all the amazing work that our current volunteers do; and to provide opportunity for the general public to come in and see how youth mentoring works and see if it fits them," she said.
Mrs O'Loughlin said anyone could register to be a MATES volunteer.
"We have a range of different volunteers. We have corporate volunteers and we have individuals from the community right through from 20 to 70 years old," she said.
Mrs O'Loughlin said the MATES program originally started in Dimboola in 2010 and had seen a successful rate of volunteer mentor registrations.
"We have over 530 matches since the its inception. For the figures of 2018, we had over 80 matches alone. This year we hope to achieve a similar number," she said.
Mrs O'Loughlin said the volunteering community in regional areas needed continued support.
She said volunteer engagement and programs run by the Centre for Participation were vital, but organisations often still struggled to attract enough volunteers.
Mrs O'Loughlin said people could register for the lunch via www.eventbrite.com/e/national-volunteer-week-mates-lunch-tickets-60736035116
National Volunteer Week runs until May 26.