What is your role with New Zealand Red Cross?

My role with the Red Cross has been as a Refugee Support Volunteer for the newly arriving families that are making Hamilton their home. 

Alongside this, I have the fun job of helping sort all the wonderful household items that are generously donated by the public to the New Zealand Red Cross office in Hamilton. When new families are due to arrive, we make up boxes of the donated items which the volunteers use to fill homes before the family's arrival.

How did you get involved?

Five years ago, I semi-retired from my kindergarten teaching position. I was looking for a volunteer organisation that cared. Other friends had recommended the Red Cross’ refugee support course, so I enrolled and popped along. Juergen, Hana and the team were so welcoming, positive and full of smiles, I knew I had chosen the right organisation.

Why do you volunteer?

I volunteer because I care for people, have the spare time and have wonderful experiences with the families and team members I work alongside. The support from key staff and all the Red Cross team is unbelievable.

What is your favourite part about volunteering?

My favourite part of volunteering is seeing families settle and watching the children grow and adapt to their new way of life. They are so happy for the small things I drop off, they smile when I ask about school or how their bike riding is going. They are full of joy and happiness, and are embracing their new lives in a new country. 

This voluntary work is a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other.

Tell us about the most memorable experience you have had volunteering?

I have had many special little moments. A particularly special moment was witnessing one of the little girls I support taking on the role of interpreting for Mum and I to understand each other, after just a short time at Primary School.

Another is the love of gardening a mum and dad developed. It was always a joy to have a guided tour of the marigolds and flowers in the front garden and the wonderful vegetable patch that is flourishing. I think there will be enough tomatoes for all of Hamilton!