Red Cross’ Disaster Welfare and Support Team in Waikato has won the 2016 Volunteering Waikato Team Excellence Award.

Team leader Ellen Thomas said the team was surprised by the award given the high calibre of volunteers doing amazing things in the community.

Ellen spends 15 hours a week volunteering on top of her full-time job as Emergency Management Coordinator at the Waikato Civil Defence Group.

In an interview with the Waikato Times, Ellen said volunteering is just “part of what you do”.

“It's constantly a choice. You're choosing to be there and it's very rewarding. This is kind of the lifestyle of our community and it is who we are as Kiwis.”

Last year, the team was deployed to assist with the Whanganui floods, held a large-scale training exercise and supported young people taking part in a Civil Defence youth programme.

The members of this team make a significant commitment to New Zealand Red Cross, as most work or study full-time outside their volunteer role, and may leave at short notice for up to seven days to assist communities throughout the country.

Want to learn new skills and help out in your community? Join a Red Cross Disaster Welfare and Support Team.