Learn­ing ben­e­fits of vol­un­teer­ing

Hamilton Press - - CONVERSATIONS - ALEX SHELLAR

The Serve Trust is an or­gan­i­sa­tion made up of de­voted vol­un­teers who all share one im­por­tant vi­sion, the de­sire to help those in need.

The Serve, pre­vi­ously called the Hamil­ton Home­less Trust, has ded­i­cated their plat­form to pro­vide es­sen­tial food re­sources on a daily ba­sis in a safe space, to those who are less for­tu­nate in the Hamil­ton com­mu­nity.

Other ser­vices are also pro­vided to bet­ter the liveli­hoods of these in­di­vid­u­als, with the over­all goal be­ing to help al­le­vi­ate long-term poverty.

Late last year Mike John­son, a teacher at Cam­bridge Mid­dle School, con­tacted Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato with hopes to pair up with a vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion, as part of a Poverty in New Zealand project a few of his stu­dents were work­ing on.

Af­ter be­ing paired up with The Serve, they joined the team one evening to as­sist with one of their meal ser­vices.

The ex­pe­ri­ence had been so ful­fill­ing that Mr John­son re­turned re­cently with a fur­ther 29 stu­dents and some of their fam­ily mem­bers, all ded­i­cat­ing their time over a pe­riod of six serves.

Mr John­son said it is vi­tal that stu­dents see the im­por­tance of get­ting be­hind vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tions like The Serve.

‘‘It is some­thing that I will do with ev­ery class I have each year, as it is bet­ter than any­thing I could teach in the class­room. It is an ex­pe­ri­ence my stu­dents will never for­get.’’

Pet­rina Toimata known as ‘‘Aunty P’’ is the hero­ine be­hind The Serve. She said it’s im­por­tant for all mem­bers of our so­ci­ety to be aware of the tri­als and tribu­la­tions we all face to­gether.

‘‘Our vi­sion is to strengthen the com­mu­nity, with em­pha­sis on unity. Be­cause change be­gins with one per­son, and that re­solve is strength­ened when we work to­gether.’’ she said.

Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato’s gen­eral man­ager, Heather Moore, said that she would love to see more schools en­cour­ag­ing their stu­dents to vol­un­teer.

‘‘Not only did these stu­dents learn that there are those in our com­mu­nity that can­not af­ford a sim­ple meal, they learnt that they can do some­thing about it, we all can. This is a great ini­tia­tive and Cam­bridge Mid­dle School should be very proud!’’

If you are in­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing, as an in­di­vid­ual or as part of a group, con­tact Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato on 07 839 3191 or visit: vol­un­teer­ing­waikato.org.nz.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Hamil­ton Press welcomes let­ters and opin­ion ar­ti­cles as con­tri­bu­tions for its Con­ver­sa­tions page. Let­ters must be about 200 words and opin­ion ar­ti­cles about 400 words. Send in your con­tri­bu­tions by noon, Fri­days, to: kel­ley.tantau@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

Cam­bridge Mid­dle School pupils helped out at the Serve Trust in Hamil­ton re­cently.

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