Vol­un­teer wants to make a dif­fer­ence

Central Otago Mirror - - OUT & ABOUT - GILLIAN WHITE

‘‘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

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