Secretary Joe Butler the beating heart of Yarra Valley ECOSS

Yarra Valley ECOSS' beloved secretary Joe Butler. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Callum Ludwig

Joe Butler has been volunteering at Yarra Valley ECOSS since 2006, and is now the much-loved secretary of the organisation.

Ms Butler has been integral to all the projects that run through Yarra Valley ECOSS, planting native and edible gardens, working in the community garden with other volunteers, building the playground, the Koori Cubby, the Indigenous Reconciliation Conversion Fire Pit, The Biofiltration Swale, and more recently The Food Forest just some of the projects she has worked on.

Ms Butler said there are two main things she loves about ECOSS.

“One is the sense of community, when you work with an organisation for a long time you build up strong friendships and relationships and it’s always changing and interesting,” she said.

“The other big thing for me is that I’m doing something towards working on the climate and more directly the environment. Everything we do at ECOSS is related to the environment, or we try to make it very much related to environmental awareness and environmental change.”

Some of Ms Butler’s highlights include the annual Ecotopia Festivals, as well as community programs she’s had a hand in involving people with disabilities or students who are disengaged from mainstream school or find it very difficult.

Currently, the team at ECOSS are working on their Crops for Community initiative, where they have invited people of all abilities to help produce food, with the excess going to community organisations like Koha Community Cafe, or the Oonah Tucker Bag program.

Ms Butler said she is looking forward to working on the upcoming ECOSS UpCycle program where youth will have the opportunity to learn how to fix, build and upgrade bikes after Yarra Valley ECOSS received a grant from Sustainability Victoria.

Chelsea McNab from Yarra Valley ECOSS said the organisation is grateful to have Ms Butler as one of their valued volunteers.

“Joe Butler has been at ECOSS the entire time I’ve been there- 10 years. She has not only been a great mentor but a great friend. We even went to India to a wedding together.,” said Ms McNab.

“She has supported me, and everyone at ECOSS through many personal difficulties whilst maintaining a stable presence at ECOSS.”

Ms McNab said she wanted to thank Ms Butler for her fantastic sense of humour, her approach to life and all tasks, her ability to connect and respect all people, her support for refugees and the environment.

“Joe is vivacious, fun, lively, spirited and warm. I just love being in her presence,” she said.

“Joe is INVALUABLE to ECOSS. I can’t imagine ECOSS without her. ”

Ms Butler said she think its wonderful that she’s been acknowledged but wants to recognise others too.

“There are so many people at ECOSS who put in enormous amounts of work, I’m one of many. I’d like other people to be acknowledged just as much as I’m being acknowledged,” she said.

“It’s nice, but that’s not why you get involved in an organisation, to be acknowledged, you get so much more out of it yourself than you give, it’s always a two-way process.”