Volunteer wants to make a difference
‘‘Seeing people in extremely difficult situations gives you perspective on your own life...’’
This month I spoke with Hawea volunteer Brent Arthur, who I first met whilst volunteering at the Wanaka Trail Ride. Born and bred in Dunedin, Brent enjoyed years travelling and working overseas before settling in Hawea 14 years ago with his wife.
Brent owns Lake Hawea Building, and being his own boss means he has the flexibility to volunteer. He is one of the busiest volunteers I know. Team leader with LandSAR’s Sub Alpine Team, Chief Fire Officer with the Lake Hawea Fire Brigade and medic at various events, Brent has volunteered for 12 years. Apparently it takes 25 years to become a local and he hopes his contribution has ‘knocked a few years off his sentence’.
‘‘It’s great to do something really different. I meet a huge range of people, am continuously developing my skills and have witnessed so many different aspects to life. Seeing people in extremely difficult situations gives you perspective on your own life and you realise; life is actually ok.’’
When Brent is called out, his family don’t know how long he’ll be away for.
‘‘The time I spend with my family does take a hit; but my wife is incredibly supportive and my kids are proud of what I do.
Brent does not seek recognition (although being named the Hawea volunteer of the year was clearly a proud moment), he volunteers because he is passionate about helping others through extremely challenging situations.
‘‘I want to look back on my life and know that my team and I have made a difference. Enriching other people’s lives is a very cool thing and a simple look or nod from a family in a terrible situation is worth gold to me.’’
So what would Brent say to others who think they are too busy to volunteer?
‘‘When you look at your life you haven’t got time not to volunteer! There’s a role for everyone in the community, it doesn’t need to be a big gesture – one small action can make the world of difference to someone else’s life and the difference it makes to your own life is immeasurable.’’
❚ Volunteering Central is an initiative of Central Lakes Trust and seeks to raise awareness of and support volunteering across the Central Otago Lakes District.
Hawea Volunteer Brent Arthur