Tire­less vol­un­teers give heart to our com­mu­nity

The Tribune (NZ) - - TERRACE END -

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.

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