Volunteering takes many shapes and forms. The offering of advice, the selfless giving of your experience, your time, or your energy. You may be a volunteer already, without even realising it!
In our community, I'm always heartened by the number of volunteers who raise their hands on a daily basis.
From my observations, we have many unsung heroes in our District who put themselves forward without any expectation of acknowledgement or reward.
I'd like to take a moment to tell you all how much your donations of time, energy and care mean to us all, you are more important than you may realise.
Have you ever offered to help a fellow school parent with taking their child to an after-school activity? That's volunteering.
Have you ever helped your elderly neighbour take their rubbish out? That's volunteering.
Have you ever helped a stranger carry something heavy to their car? Stepped in to offer directions to a lost tourist? Given someone a lift, served on the PTA, or helped your colleague with their workload?
These may not seem like the actions of a volunteer – but this is where it all starts. These small acts of selfless behaviour cause larger ripples of goodwill to flow out into our community.
My personal experiences with volunteers in my local community over the past two years have been absolutely overwhelming.
The Maungatapere First World War Memorial Church is a far cry now from how it looked just two years ago. This is a volunteer project that sits particularly close to my heart, as I have been involved in some capacity from the very beginning.
The Lions Club of Mangakahia chose to restore this church as their Lions International Centennial Year Project, but they had no idea how it would bring the entire community together.
Volunteers came from every corner, wanting to donate their time and skills into renovating this valuable piece of history; and the results are simply amazing.
Even now, the volunteers are continuing to add the "final touches", including the stitching of nearly 100 heritage-design tapestry cushions in keeping with the history of the building.
Of course, the Maungatapere Church is just an example of what is happening throughout our District, all the time.
The old saying "where there's a will, there's a way" is so apt. I really believe Northland has some of the strongest willed people in New Zealand!
When there's something that needs doing – rubbish clean-up days, community food gardens, community hall renovations or school working bees – Northlanders will just roll up our sleeves and muck in.
I want to say a big thank you to all of the wonderful people who take time out of their own busy lives to give back to our community.
You may not always get the recognition you deserve, but please know that your efforts never go unnoticed.
I know I speak on behalf of every community organisation when I say - you are invaluable.
Ngā mihi nui (kind regards)
* Sharon Morgan, deputy mayor of Whangārei, is filling in for mayor Sheryl Mai this week.