Alan’s green thumb keeps gardens lush

23 02 10 Alan Sims Hhp Story Volunteering

With the expansion of Dollars 4 Dollars, Hand Heart Pocket now matches Lodges and individual Members volunteering and personal giving. Find out how you can access Dollars 4 Doers.

The unique rainforest environment which surrounds the COUCH Wellness Centre in Cairns provides a peaceful place for people going through cancer to sit and take in the sights and sounds around them.

It’s an essential part of the care and support people receive at the Centre as they navigate their way through a cancer diagnosis.

Volunteers like Alan Sims help to look after the gardens within the precinct. He’s there 4-6 hours a week, doing everything from planting and tending to the garden beds, to checking the sprinklers and gurni-ing the concrete footpaths.

“When the COUCH Wellness Centre opened in 2019, it meant people going through cancer in the Far North no longer had to travel hundreds of kilometers away from their families to access support services to improve their quality of life.”

“They can do yoga, get a massage and meet other people who will support them as they live with cancer right here in the Far North.”

Alan says as a Freemason he looks at volunteering as community service and says he gets a lot of satisfaction from giving his time.

“When it’s a cause that really matters to you, it outweighs anything else. I think of the people that this Centre is for and if my few hours a week can contribute to their wellbeing, then I’ve made a difference,” Alan said.

With the expansion of Dollars 4 Dollars, Hand Heart Pocket now matches Lodges and individual Members volunteering and personal giving.

“It’s a great idea and it’s easy to access. What you do is, choose a charity that qualifies, go and volunteer, ask for a letter from the charity to confirm the hours you have given and then attach that to your Personal Dollars 4 Doers form. Hand Heart Pocket then matches it with a donation to your charity,” Alan said.

“I’ve had a positive response from the Members I’ve spoken to about Dollars 4 Doers, I have no doubt there will be a big uptake in 2023.”

Hand Heart Pocket CEO Sara Parrott said the thinking behind the expansion was to help more Members to engage with their communities.

“We’re here to help Members with their community work, to empower them to support the causes that matter to them in their community.

“Through our Member Survey we found out that 75% of respondents volunteer and we felt it was important to recognise Members volunteering because volunteering is just as important as giving or fundraising,” Ms Parrott said.

There is a total of $500,000 available for Dollars 4 Dollars activities each year, so the more involved Members are with their community, the quicker these funds can be distributed to support local charities.

Each Lodge can access up to $5,000 each year and each Member $500 per year.

Alan’s message to other Members thinking of applying for Dollars 4 Doers is to just do it.

“Volunteering is good for your wellbeing and it’s good for the charity you’re supporting,” Alan said.

“There are plenty of charities that could use some help, maybe you could set up a Lodge working bee for the charity, get a few Members along and make a day of it,” Alan said.

What sorts of volunteering activities can HHP match with a donation:

Provided that the community organisation you are volunteering for is a registered charity and has tax-deductible gift status, Lodges can take up a range of volunteer opportunities such as:

• Assisting community organisations with their operations (eg, preparing food, stocking shelves, general administration)
• Supporting community organisations with their fundraising activities (eg, selling merchandise for charities, helping during events, running stalls, stuffing envelopes for their annual fundraising appeals)
• Using your professional skills to assist community organisations (eg, attending working bees, building, teaching/instructing)
• Visiting the sick, elderly or person with a disability if they reside in a not-for-profit facility
• Serving on a not-for-profit board or committee

To read our FAQs, access our new forms or to find out which charities qualify go to

You can also contact the HHP team on 3493 6000 or or speak to your local HHP Champion.

Photo: HHP Champion and OSB recipient Alan Sims volunteers at the COUCH Wellness Centre in Cairns.


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