Volunteering, mahi aroha and social action connect people and the communities they live in. That's why the chosen theme for this year's National Volunteer Week, which runs from June 16 to 22, is Whiria te tangata — weaving the people together.
The week celebrates the collective contribution of the 1.2 million volunteers in New Zealand who offer their time and skills without pay, and bring empowering potential to our country's many non-profit and charitable organisations.
"People that get involved in volunteering look for something that fits their passion and they make an invaluable contribution to our society, which is hugely appreciated," says Volunteering Bay of Plenty's general manager Helen Stewart.
She explains there's no "one-size fits all" when it comes to volunteering. For a young person it could be about gaining experience in a certain role that can lead to employment, where for an active retiree it can be a way to increase social interaction.
"What volunteers have in common is that they want to add value to a cause they believe in.
It's about giving back," she says.
The team behind Volunteering Bay of Plenty, along with the other Volunteer Centres in the country, works to educate, advocate and enable volunteering throughout the region. They are dedicated to leading positive change, and their online database provides a portal in which volunteers can find suitable roles with organisations.
Organisations that engage with volunteers operate in a range of areas, such as social and community development and the environment. The roles available are also diverse. It is a hand, head, and heart approach, or a combination of all three.
Volunteering Bay of Plenty knows volunteers come from all walks of life, and these amazing people have no off switch. They realise volunteers always find a way to spread the word and encourage others to help in their community,
"All volunteers bring a wide range of contributions to the table, either one off or ongoing such as graphic designers, social media coordinators, architects, student mentors, sports coaches, student army and drivers," Helen explains.
"Volunteering is also a great way to get into governance, as not-for-profit trustees are usually volunteers. More and more organisations are open to encouraging internships on boards, so people can gain valuable experience," she says.
Organisations can develop a volunteer programme that's effective, engaging, and fulfilling for everyone involved. Volunteering Bay of Plenty can assist organisations with their volunteer management to give them direction and a purpose, so they can achieve the right outcomes.
"We aim to be a one-stop-shop for volunteering. We are also advocators, facilitators and enablers providing a range of related services and resources. Knowledge sharing is key," Helen says.
During National Volunteer Week, Volunteering Bay of Plenty will shout morning tea to a deserving organisation based on nominations received from their members.
If you are interested in getting involved, see volbop.org.nz or call 075713714. The team can help you find a fitting role within a deserving charity or not-for-profit organisation.
Volunteering Bay of Plenty
●Volunteering BOP aims to be recognised by all sections of the community as a one-stop volunteering shop, attracting a wide range of volunteers and providing professional information on volunteering issues.
●It works with more than 90 organisations
●Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills, make friends and get work experience. For newcomers to the country, it also provides opportunities to learn about New Zealand culture and practise speaking English.