Grant Smith is 78 years old and has arthritic knees. He is also often introduced as “Grant Smith, not the mayor”.
Smith is indeed not Palmerston North’s mayor but an inspiration to volunteers. Three days a week he walks 3.8 kilometres to his voluntary receptionist role at Whatunga Tūao Volunteer Central.
“Grant started out as Man Friday, then as other shifts became available he became Boy Monday and Teenage Tuesday,” Volunteer Central manager Kate Aplin says.
Smith was one of 71 volunteers and voluntary organisations recognised at the 10th annual Volunteer Recognition Awards, held in Palmerston North this month.
Barbara Wills has been a member of Neighbourhood Support Manawatū since its inception in 1983 and was instrumental in setting it up.
She has been an active member of the governing committee in various roles including as vice-chairperson and secretary.
Lisa Nielsen was recognised for her 33 years of service to GirlGuiding New Zealand in Feilding. Not only is she a Brownie and Pippin leader, Nielsen promotes Guiding and organises recruitment events.
“Without her dedication and mahi, Guilding in Feilding would not be as successful as it is,” Nielsen’s nomination says.
Tracey Greig and her baby daughter Harriet are friendship buddies for Mash Trust Friendship Service. They are matched with Margaret, who lives in a supported home in Palmerston North.
Greig provides photos of the trio’s outings to Mash Trust. “Their smiling faces say it all. The fun they are having together shines through,” her nomination says.
Greig loves seeing how much Margaret cares for Harriet and how happy Harriet makes Margaret.
The other Manawatū recipients were:
- Janetta Madeno, Volunteer Central;
- Eris Newson and Robyn Parkinson, Feilding and District Art Society;
- Danielle Westwood, GirlGuiding New Zealand;
- Cameron Jenkins and Skye Shaddix, Manawatū Lesbian and Gay Rights Association;
- Sheena Kirkup and Mary West, Settlers Care Trust in Feilding;
- Myra Shotton and Margaret-Anne Cook, Manawatū Pars;
- Pat Debney and Paul Gwynne, Digits Charitable Trust;
- Francelle Aiken and Trevor Dearlove, English Language Partners;
- Murray Matthews, Mash Trust Friendship Service;
- Gay Martin, Feilding and District Rose Society and Garden Club;
- Bryan Procter and Henry Wheeler, Rongotea Community Committee;
- Phil Lamond, Senior Hub Feilding;
- Margaret Openshaw and Lynne Ascroft, Palmerston North Street Van;
- Adele Rostami, MentorEd;
- Hazel Mulligan, 32 SQN Air Training Corps;
- Folole Muliaga, Amanaki Stem Academy;
- Kathriona Benvie and Jan Lockhart, SuperGrans Manawatū;
- Peter Alve, Age Concern Palmerston North and District;
- Peter Curtis and Aaron Schroder, Manawatū Blokart Club;
- Stewart Harrex, Environment Network Manawatū;
- Allan Welch, Speladd New Zealand;
- Garry Buckman, Manawatū Just Released Accommodation Trust;
- Tara Parkes, Palmerston North Parents Centre;
- Dennis Dromgool and Kevin Cameron, Palmerston North Community Patrol;
- Cina Poland and Bonita Kenning, Te Whare Koha;
- Krys Baker, Palmerston North Women’s Health Collective;
- Richard Ramson, Hiwinui Community Committee;
- Esmee Rowden and Judie Campbell, New Zealand Red Cross;
- Kate Ngai, Manawatū Multicultural Council;
- Lois Croasdale and Kim Featherstone, City Mission Palmerston North.
The Manawatū organisations acknowledged were Feilding Health Shuttle, Volunteer Central, Ashhurst River Church for providing a venue for Age Concern’s Steady As You Go exercise group, Palmerston North Repair Cafe, Julia Wallace Retirement Village residents for making pest traps, Just Zilch and the Massey University Veterinary Emergency Response Team.
On average, 20 new volunteers sign up every month with Volunteer Central and 45 volunteer roles a month are filled across its rohe (Manawatū, Horowhenua and Tararua), board member Jordan Dempster said.
Manawatū District Mayor Helen Worboys quoted American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, that is the only thing that can.”
Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden spoke about the importance of collaboration and diversity. He was recovering from a cold, but the Volunteer Recognition Event was not a function he wanted to miss.
Palmerston North City Council Community Committee chairwoman Lorna Johnson said she was proud to live in a community that has so many wonderful volunteers giving their time and energy to help others in the community.