Tireless volunteers give heart to our community
Poverty was once reserved for people living in ‘other countries’, a million miles from our own Godzone. However, things have changed over the past few years and we hear more and more reports of children going without food, living in cold and damp housing, increasing numbers of families relying on foodbanks and even an increased number of beggars on our streets.
Fortunately, we have a number of charitable organisations whose mission is to help those families and individuals who find themselves in financial hardship.
Methodist Goodwill manager Lyal Brenton says: ‘‘The money we raise through our three Goodwill shops, our annual Yesterday’s Treasures sale, which raised just on $22,000 this year, and general donations from members of the public all goes into providing essential services to assist people in need.
‘‘None of this would be possible without our volunteers who really make our organisation what it is because without their dedication and efforts we would find it extremely difficult to raise the funds we need to keep our services going.’’
Methodist Goodwill rely on more than 100 volunteers to help with running the shops and sorting through donated goods, with more than 50 helping out at the Yesterday’s Treasures sale.
‘‘Our volunteers come from all areas of the community, from 14 to 15 year olds right up to people in their 80s. The younger volunteers enjoy coming in to help as not only do they become part of a team but they also develop good work habits.
‘‘We also have a number of men who may have been made redundant or simply find it difficult to get a job and working as a volunteer gives them a real purpose in life because they know they are doing good for the community. Another positive is that I can provide them with a work reference or help get them into further training at places like UCOL,’’ he said.
Many of the older volunteers are retirees who want to keep active and involved in the community.
‘‘I can’t express how much we appreciate the tireless work of our volunteers. It is a fulltime job raising enough money to support Methodist Social Services in the work they do for the community. They have a huge and increasing demand for their family counselling services and demand for our foodbank is increasing all the time.’’
Lyal points out that theirs is an emergency foodbank and to receive assistance, families will be interviewed by a social worker to see why they need the food and to see if they can provide further help through their family counselling services. The general limit is two parcels per family per calendar year but exceptions are made in serious emergencies, and each family parcel should last for a week.
‘‘This January we had 50 more families receiving food parcels than January last year. We even have working people coming in for assistance, usually as a result of a significant change in their life such as redundancy or illness. They still have all their commitments for rent, power and the like, so if there is a drop in income families can suddenly find themselves in a desperate situation.’’
A family’s fortune can change overnight and if it weren’t for the work of the many charitable organisations there would be a considerable number of families living well below the poverty line.
However, as Lyal points out: ‘‘Charities can only operate with the goodwill of volunteers and we can be truly thankful that we have so many people in our community who are prepared to volunteer their time for the good of others.’’
A few of the 50-plus volunteers who helped out at this year’s Yesterday’s Treasures sale take time out from their busy day to enjoy a refreshing cup of tea.