When Vanessa Walmsley signed up as a civil defence volunteer she was hoping to give back to her community but she has gained so much more.
She started her journey in Haumoana, driven to help after a series of tsunami warnings in the community.
"I wanted to be part of a community organisation and help out at times when it was most needed. What's been great is all the added benefits I've gained through the experience."
Through her civil defence training she's developed strong community networks, as well as additional skills, such as first aid, she said.
Ms Walmsley is now part of the Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency volunteer network, which stretches from Wairoa to Waipukurau.
As a busy young woman running two businesses, she rejects the idea that people need to be retired to become a volunteer.
"While there is a certain level of commitment required when you join up as a Civil Defence volunteer, you can take it as far as you want to take it. If you have limited time, that's fine but if you want to get heavily involved that's also great."
She urges other young people to get involved in Civil Defence and reap the rewards.
"The training helps people develop new skills they can add to their CVs. They also get to meet people they wouldn't normally meet. Volunteering offers so many opportunities to better yourself."
Ms Walmsley said from a social point of view, volunteering with Civil Defence offers the opportunity to get involved in something that's vitally important to the community.
"As Civil Defence volunteers we will be able to help people in our own community when they need it most. It gives me a real sense of being part of something pretty special."
If you're interested in becoming a civil defence volunteer in Hawke's Bay, visit www.hbemergency.govt.nz for more details or "Like" Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management on Facebook.