As part of National Volunteer Week, Wear Orange Wednesday (WOW), held on 17 May 2023, encourages communities across Australia to thank and show all State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers support by wearing orange. This year Trinity College Beenleigh Year 12 student, Harlem McDermott, will be recognised as one of these amazing local heroes.
While most teens are gaming or kicking the footy around on the weekend Harlem is volunteering his time with the local SES Queensland.
Harlem first became involved with his local SES after witnessing the devastation of the floods in 2022. Wanting to do more to help his community he gave up most of his Saturdays and Wednesday evenings to attend SES training and is looking forward to volunteering in a further capacity once he turns 18. “After seeing the devastation of the floods, it prompted me to do something to help the community. I joined to put a smile on people's faces during some of the most challenging times in their lives," Harlem said.
“When you give someone just 10 minutes of your time, it can change their life. That's why I love this job."
Community spirit is not unfamiliar to Harlem, who has been involved in the Kokoda challenge since year 4 and has competed in the 30km, 48km and even the 96km events. In 2021 Harlem volunteered to help train and mentor a group of primary school children to compete in the Brisbane 30km event ensuring they were mentally and physically fit for the challenge. Harlem also regularly participates in the Rosie's Friends on the Street program through his school Trinity College, Beenleigh.
Our College Principal Mr Chris Raju said, "The Trinity community is extremely proud of Harlem's generous commitment to SES Volunteering. He is a true exemplar of the Marist spirit of generosity to others and outreach to the local community."
Paul Gardner, another voluntary hero at the QFES Rural Fire Service and one of Harlem's teachers, said “It's so great to see these young people stepping up to inspire the next generation of volunteers."
Volunteering for the SES not only allows Harlem to help people but also to strive towards his personal goal of becoming a police officer.