Offering guests the warmest of welcomes
A GROUP of dedicated and passionate locals gather each week to welcome visitors to the region who arrive by boat.
Dressed in blue Hawaiian shirts, their smiling faces greet every passenger as they disembark their cruise ready for a day of exploring the Whitsundays.
The Volunteer Cruise Ship Ambassadors are vital to our tourism industry and they've got a new face to their team.
Kaylene Giles lives with an intellectual disability and has recently started volunteering as a meet and greet ambassador.
Tourists arriving at the Port of Airlie Terminal in the Whitsundays are greeted by Ms Giles, and her beaming smile is the warmest welcome imaginable.
Her new role has put a spring in her step, as well as some new-found confidence.
Ms Giles said she always made sure to tell people where they could find a chemist, a doctor's office as well as the post office, and of course some of her favourite cafes.
She loves meeting all the people who come off the ships and said it felt amazing to interact with tourists.
"It made me feel good meeting people and excited to be able to do this,” Ms Giles said.
Ms Giles' support worker Amber Schultz accompanies her every time she volunteers, but she observes from the sidelines as Ms Giles is ready and waiting, armed with valuable information for visitors.
"When my support worker stepped back I didn't feel nervous, I was happy,” she said.
"I am so proud of myself.”
A highlight for Ms Giles so far is providing newlywed Vanessa Davidson with a brochure.
Mrs Davidson had literally just said 'I do' and when she met Ms Giles was still in her wedding dress.
Ms Giles has one-on-one support provided by Endeavour Foundation to assist her to volunteer with the ambassador program and Endeavour support and operations manager Miranda Kunze said this was a huge achievement for Ms Giles.
"Kaylene was absolutely ecstatic when we connected her with the Airlie Beach ambassadors program and she's had a smile on her face ever since her first day volunteering,” Ms Kunze said.
Ms Kunze said the impact on Ms Giles' self-esteem from volunteering one day a week showed just how important it was to her.
"It's also enriching for the Whitsundays community to have more people with a disability participate,” Ms Kunze said.
Endeavour Foundation offers a range of support to people with disability in the Whitsundays, including support at home, in the community and at work.