Shabana McKnight loves volunteering for Te Whare Koha.
"I love the people," she says. "We have lots of laughs and it connects me to what's going on in our community."
McKnight is one of the volunteer drivers for Te Whare Koha Highbury a Te Roopu Oranga O Highbury Trust, an organisation that works to improve the health and wellbeing of the Highbury community and surrounding suburbs.
She drives Highbury residents to Just Zilch in the early evenings so they can access food from the free store and drops them home afterwards.
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McKnight has been volunteering for Te Whare Koha for six months. "I work during the day so needed a way to help after work. The van run worked out great for that."
The van can fit seven people at a time and gets a lot of use. It also connects people to health services and appointments during the day.
"What I see on the van runs is that people spend the time together catching up with everything that's going on in our community," she says.
"They support each other and offer advice. They talk about other issues going on for them, too, like the other day someone was talking about how the damp in his house is causing mould and health problems and all the others jumped in with solutions for him. It's so great to see."
McKnight says the Te Whare Koha staff make volunteering easy and fun. "The team here are really positive, encouraging and helpful. I'd love to see more volunteers here. There's something for every level of skill and time availability. You don't have to commit to regular hours to come and help."
Te Whare Koha are seeking volunteers for shop-sorting, driving and gardening. Contact them on 027 543 9663 or via their Facebook page.
• Environment Network Manawatū is a hub for about 60 enviro groups, including Te Whare Koha, working in areas ranging from sustainable living to wildlife conservation. Find them on Facebook or visit enm.org.nz.