Giving the gift of their time – Jules and Susan

16 October 2023

On any Thursday afternoon at the Upper Hutt Red Cross Shop you’ll find Jules and Susan, two long-serving volunteers who are proud of their shop.

“There’s lots of people who come in and say ‘it looks like a real shop!’ because I think they have the expectation of a second-hand shop not looking very good,” said Susan.

She started volunteering at the shop around nine years ago to get skills in retail after raising her kids. Once she got into paid work, she kept coming back when they needed help. “It’s good to get out and socialise, even though I’ve got a husband at home, you can only talk to them about so much!”

Jules has been with the shop for 10 years, “I started because I had just arrived from the UK, I wasn’t employed at the time, and I lived locally so I thought it would be a good thing to do.” A public relations specialist with a background in financial services, she’s kept coming back because she loves it and she can use her skills.

For both women, it’s more than just a volunteer role – it’s a place to meet people and interact with their community, which includes regulars who come into the shop for a bit of company. “I’ve built up nice relationships with them,” said Jules of the regulars who pop in, often just to say ‘hello’.

The sense of purpose, community, and contribution also plays a role in why they both volunteer over the festive period in December and January each year.

“My circumstances are probably quite different – the only family I’ve got other than my son here is my sister who’s is based in Perth, Australia. So Christmas is unusual for me,” said Jules.

Susan agrees, “it’s nice that the paid staff can get a break without having to worry about the shop.” Her husband is a Meals on Wheels volunteer, “it’s nice to get out and bring smiles to customers and other people,” she said.

Volunteering during the festive period is an opportunity to give back while also socialising with friends, whether they be shoppers or other volunteers. Shop manager Teresa Crowhurst is grateful to all her volunteers who give the gift of their time, especially during the festive period.

“Voluntary service is one of our Fundamental Principles and volunteers are the backbone of Red Cross here and overseas. Our Movement is powered by people like Jules and Susan,” Teresa said.

“Volunteers are essential to our shops. We simply wouldn’t be able to operate without generous people like Jules and Susan who give the gift of their time.”

Everyone has a role to play in Red Cross, whether it’s delivering Meals on Wheels, responding to disasters, or sorting goods in our Red Cross Shops. Volunteering during the festive period may seem like a small thing, but it’s an essential gift that helps us provide affordable shopping and raise money to fund our work.

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