Gold Coast Woman of the Year Tani Bloudell has set the bar high when it comes to volunteering.
Despite her relatively young age, the 23-year-old Merrimac resident has been volunteering for nearly 12 years.
In acknowledgement of her significant volunteering achievements, Ms Bloudell was named as both the overall Harvey Norman Gold Coast Woman of the Year and as the Young Woman of the Year by the Gold Coast Bulletin in July.
Ms Bloudell, who started volunteering at 12 years old, said she knew she wanted to volunteer from a very young age.
“I started volunteering at Riding for the Disabled on my 12th birthday,” she said.
“I wanted to start when I was younger, but the age requirement was 12 years old,” Ms Bloudell said.
“I’ve always wanted to help other people, right from a young age,” she said.
“When I was in year two, I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I told them ‘I’m going to change the world,’ and they told me I couldn’t do that for a job.
“I was very adamant that I was going to change the world.
“That’s kind of where it all started.”
As part of her volunteering, Tani founded E.D.G.E, a foundation to help give education opportunities to students in Tonga, when she was 17 years old.
In the first year of its establishment, Tani raised more than $1 million in school resources for Tupou High School in Tonga.
“I worked with my high school, and other schools in the area to gather equipment like tables and chairs to send to Tonga,” she said.
“I filled up six, 40-foot containers of school equipment for schools in Tonga to use,” Ms Bloudell said.
Ms Bloudell said her family and friends were supportive of her volunteering and encouraged her to volunteer from a young age.
“My parents always instilled in me to help people if I could,” she said.
“It was something that always came so naturally to me.
“They never forced me to volunteer, but at the school I went to [All Saints Anglican School] it was highly encouraged.
“That kind of lead me into volunteering as well.
“My parents always supported me in everything I did, and encouraged me and never put me down,” she said.
Volunteering hasn’t always been easy for Ms Bloudell, who suffers from anaphylactic allergies and from the heart condition supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), which have led her to spend a lot of time in hospital over the years.
“I was in hospital from a very young age for multiple things, like severe allergies and a heart condition,” Ms Bloudell said.
“It definitely left me with some barriers, but I was able to overcome them,” she said.
Her husband, Gareth Bloudell, said he was constantly inspired by his wife’s selflessness.
“I would describe Tani as loving and thoughtful,” Mr Bloudell said.
“She does everything for everyone else, and sometimes she forgets about herself and her wellbeing,” he said.
“She is constantly loving everyone else and putting others first, it’s really inspiring to see.”
Tani Bloudell’s mentor and family friend, Heather Haynes OAM, said she was constantly in awe of the young woman’s achievements.
“She is very humble, sincere and genuine,” Ms Haynes said.
“What you see is what you get with Tani,” she said.
“She came up in such a loving family.
“They are all so kind and caring.
Ms Haynes said Ms Bloudell’s grandparents also gave back to the community.
“Both sets of her grandparents are so philanthropic and give so much to the community,” she said.
“Tani constantly faces all of her challenges with confidence and determination because of her health issues,” Ms Haynes said.