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Nia immediately felt embraced by the warmth of the shop’s staff and volunteers, including her soon to be manager, Rachel.
“I used to be shy and really reserved. I wanted to find somewhere I felt comfortable volunteering. Red Cross embraced me as a person. I didn’t know much about the breadth of what Red Cross did back then – but as time went on, I learned more about what we do in communities around New Zealand. Red Cross is about being the best for everyone, not just a single part of society.”
Initially Nia felt out of her depth in her volunteering role, but under Rachel’s wing, quickly learned to move from the back of the shop into a more customer-centric role.
“I was at the back a lot of the time, helping – but you have to learn everything, when you volunteer in a Red Cross shop. I became more customer-focused and aware of people’s needs. I wouldn’t want to talk to them before. Rachel helped me – having someone to learn from, who knows what they’re doing, was a big inspiration.”
Now, Nia knows many of the Frankton shops customers by name, around 250 people. She says knowing who people are and learning about what they’re looking for is an important part of her work. “It’s very Kiwi, how we get to know each other.”
Nia describes herself as someone with the glamour of Kim Kardashian and the heart of Mother Teresa - an apt description of her retail volunteering role, and for someone who embodies the style and sentiment of these two famous women.
If you’re looking for opportunities to volunteer and grow your skills like Nia has, apply to be a shop volunteer online.