When Marjorie Porter's first husband Alan died suddenly in 1967, leaving her with their Timboon dairy farm and two small children, it felt like her world was crashing down around her — until the community stepped in to help her pick up the pieces.
Nine years later, life dealt the now mother-of-three another blow when her second husband Russell also suddenly, tragically, died.
But once again, the community rallied.
Embraced by the love and support of family, friends and her neighbourhood, Marjorie made a solemn vow.
“I told myself there and then, I would try to put as much back into my community as I could,” she said.
And she has.
On Monday, the 86-year-old was honoured for her tireless service to the community of Numurkah, receiving an Order of Australia Medal.
Ask Mrs Porter to list the ways she has served her community throughout the years, and you might be listening for a while.
In fact, name a community group — she's probably been a key member.
Moving to Strathmerton in 1983 to be closer to her brother Doug, Mrs Porter leapt at any opportunity to serve her new neighbourhood, from volunteering with Meals on Wheels for 10 years to reading to residents at Karinya Aged Care.
She joined the Numurkah Pony Club committee early on after her youngest daughter Elizabeth dove into the local equestrian scene.
She filled the role of secretary there for seven years.
When the 2012 floods swept through Numurkah, Mrs Porter, then president of the Numurkah Garden Club, immediately put her hand up to help.
Working with the Victorian Royal Horticultural Society, she organised donations to rebuild community gardens and helped raise $7000 to create a new sensory garden at Karinya.
Mrs Porter still believes those restorations were a major step towards healing for the town following the floods.
“Gardens are extremely therapeutic, they bring so much joy,” she said.
Mrs Porter's accomplishments don't end there: ‘published author’ is also on the lengthy list.
A keen historian, she has written two books — one on the Numurkah agricultural show and the other on the Victorian Royal Horticultural Society.
Mrs Porter has also filled key roles in various volunteer groups throughout the years, including the Ladies Probus and Friends of the Numurkah Library.
Not to mention serving as a divisional commissioner for the Murray Valley Girl Guides.
A passionate supporter of agricultural shows, Mrs Porter was secretary of the Numurkah Annual Show committee from 1997 to 2005.
She is still one of the local show's greatest cheerleaders.
“I honestly think shows are the best thing for a community,” she said.
“They've got something for people of all ages, from 2 to 102.”
Her ongoing service to the community has not gone unnoticed throughout the years.
Mrs Porter has been named a life member of the Numurkah A&P Society and the Goulburn Valley Riverina Show Association, and was named Numurkah Citizen of the Year in 2006.
But even with a resume like this, she's still shocked to be named an OAM recipient.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed, and greatly honoured,” she said.
From Mrs Porter's perspective, she's only giving back what she's received.
“After all people have done for me throughout my life, I have a lot to pay back,” she said.
“And that's what I've tried to do.
“I don't have a lot of money, but I do have skills. I hope I've used them to make this world a better place.”