Help them Rhonda

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Rhonda Parker was a long time Country Music Festival director and an avid golfer.
Camera IconRhonda Parker was a long time Country Music Festival director and an avid golfer. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Boyup Brook’s Rhonda Parker’s long commitment to community service has led her to many places, including Parliament House in Canberra.

Her desire to volunteer started at a young age, and her eagerness to get involved led to a comment on her report card as a school student.

“I’ve probably been involved in community projects since I was 11 or 12,” she said.

“It’s just in your make-up that you want to be helpful, I had a school report come home when I was about 11 saying that I spent too much time volunteering and not enough time in the classroom, but I think that’s just part of me.”

Fittingly, it was her involvement in service organisations that brought Rhonda to Boyup Brook to live.

“I met my husband at an Apex convention that was being opened by Prince Charles back in 1981,” she said.

“Met a farmer who lived in Boyup Brook and the rest is history.”

One of Rhonda’s most prominent contributions to the community was her stint as the music director of the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival, a role that sees her get recognised by strangers to this day.

“We were in a tiny little free camp on the west coast of South Australia, and I’d been for a walk and I came back and my husband was talking to someone and he knew who I was,” she said.

“I didn't have a clue and he knew me because I’d been the music director — I get that all the time.

“I get a lot of people — when I’m in all sorts of strange places — come up and say hi, how are you going?”

She has also sat on the board of Boyup Brook’s Community Resource Centre, a commitment that began while it was still known as a telecentre.

“I was pretty passionate about the telecentre and the concept of it, keeping people in town, enabling people to be able to study in town,” she said.

“When I first joined the CRC they had written on top of the whiteboard, ‘Rhonda can’t boot up a computer but she can make a scone rise’.

“That was so true, I didn’t even know how to use a computer.”

For her many contributions to the community Rhonda won the 2010 West Australian Local Hero award, causing her to fly back from an Eastern States holiday to attend the ceremony.

“I wrote on a tiny little scrap of paper a couple of notes just in case, literally in pencil and I won it, it was a great honour, it was just unbelievable,” she said.

“Meanwhile my husband was at the wedding we were supposed to be attending over east and they were all hanging by the phone to see who’d won at the wedding.

“It was fabulous to ring and say ‘hey, it’s me’.”

Other community activities she is involved in include being treasurer of Boyup’s bowls club and president of its golf club, as well as sitting on the match committee for South West golf and playing Mother Christmas at local events.

Rhonda says her volunteering is driven by be a desire to leave the world a better place.

“A passion for leaving the world a better place to live in, that would be my passion, not necessarily to replace yourself but to make the world a happy place.”

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