Local charities and organisations have been busy thanking those who give the gift of time and skills to help goals be achieved and help services reach the community. Reporter Shauni James speaks to just a few of the local organisations who have been thanking their volunteers.
National Volunteer Week 2021 runs from June 20 to 26. This year's theme is Recognise, Connect, Reimagine.
Volunteering Bay of Plenty (Volbop) chief executive Vanessa Lister says volunteers deliver more than 159 million voluntary hours and more than $4 billion of financial value to our society and economy every year.
"Volunteers are vital to the organisations who do not have sufficient resources to hire paid workers with the expertise they require. Charities, community groups and clubs rely on volunteer contributions to achieve their goals."
She says corporates, too, can get involved by making available their employees to accept volunteer roles, and to provide opportunities for volunteers to get unpaid work experience.
"When you volunteer, you help others, and studies show that volunteering helps you too."
Vanessa says volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn new skills for your own benefit.
"Whether you're exposed to teamwork, problem solving, decision-making, or leadership activities/tasks, there are plenty of opportunities for you to gain the skills and experience you want to master."
Volunteering improves mental and physical health, she says.
She encouraged the community to thank its volunteers because, "Volunteers do not get paid, so in some ways 'thank you' doesn't really do it justice, but it is the least we can do".
"It is crucial that collectively, we turn the story of 'reducing numbers of volunteers' into one where more New Zealanders than ever see volunteering as an integral and rewarding part of their lives."
Volbop has a free online database where volunteers can search for opportunities to serve, and organisations can upload those roles and opportunities for people to apply for.
It is holding its inaugural Volfest event on Friday, June 25, at BayCourt in Tauranga, which thanks, celebrates, recognises and advocates for the volunteering sector.
The Rotorua Community Hospice Volunteer Long Service Awards were held on Monday.
Volunteer services manager Sue Gunn says they had volunteers who had served for five years and 10 years, and also one who had served for 24 years.
"We also had the Friends of Hospice volunteers. There's a group of ladies that were doing a lot of fundraising and volunteer roles way back in the early 80s when Hospice first started, before fundraising and marketing became paid roles."
The awards ceremony included high tea and was held at Distinction Rotorua Hotel.
"It's their sheer generosity in their gift of time, and they are just so passionate and dedicated in doing good in the community.
"We are very fortunate they have chosen to spend that valuable time with Hospice."
Sport Bay of Plenty sport manager Nick Chambers says volunteers make sport and recreation possible in the Bay of Plenty.
"They can be referees, coaches, timekeepers or administrators - whatever their role, it's important we acknowledge their efforts, give thanks for their work and look at ways we can sustain their involvement.
"Without their contribution week in and week out, we just wouldn't have great opportunities to be physically active."
He says it's often parents of participating kids that get involved in coaching, managing and transporting teams or sitting on a club committee, but they also find a lot of young people volunteering as referees and therefore gaining new skills.
"That's why it's so important that we acknowledge the work of volunteers and make sure they have an experience that makes them want to keep coming back.
"We want to sustain their involvement so they and their families stay connected to their sport."
Nick says Sport BOP has launched a new section on its website that provided useful information about how clubs can recruit, manage and retain volunteers, and give them the recognition they deserve.
"In the lead-up to the 2021 Bay of Plenty Sport Awards we're also celebrating the work of sport and recreation volunteers by highlighting some of the volunteer stories from people in our region.
"In the last 12 months in particular, volunteers have played a critical role in helping our sport and recreation sector stay strong through the impacts of Covid-19. I think it's really important we acknowledge that."
A Lakes DHB spokesperson says Rotorua Hospital has a wide range of volunteer roles.
These include Friends of Emergency Department who are co-ordinated by St John, volunteer chaplains trained and supported by the Rotorua Hospital Chaplaincy Trust, as well as help desk and ward volunteers.
"Volunteers are a valuable asset to Rotorua Hospital and we're extremely appreciative of all who volunteer their time with us.
"Most are able to spend time with patients receiving treatment when clinicians cannot.
"They offer a listening ear, hold their hand or make them a hot drink where permitted, some support whānau and staff. Some volunteers offer a specific service, such as art therapy or taking magazines around the ward."
The help desk volunteers help patients and visitors get to their appointments by escorting them or answering other questions they may have.
"Volunteers don't volunteer for the praise or appreciation, but because they want to give back unconditionally.
"National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on them and to show the community what volunteer roles are available should they wish to offer their time."
SPCA Rotorua centre manager Vivien Moore says volunteers are absolutely essential to SPCA Rotorua, and its fellow centres nationwide.
"Without them, we wouldn't be able to help anywhere near the number of animals we do.
"A wide range of our services and animal enrichment is provided through our volunteers – including fostering and socialisation, ambulance services, and shelter cleaning and upkeep."
She says there is a variety of ways people can help out.
"From opening their homes as foster carers for SPCA animals, to working in our op shops; from volunteering in our centre or making toys and knitting mice."
Vivien says they celebrate their volunteers all year round.
"This week we will be sending a thank you to each of our volunteers individually to let them know how much their help means to us. They are an integral part of our team."
All roles open for new volunteer applications can always be browsed at spca.nz/volunteerrotorua.
Coastguard has also been celebrating the people who keep others safe on the water through education, assistance and search and rescue services.
Coastguard would cease to exist without its volunteers - more than 2000 people across 63 units give their time and energy to saving lives on the seas, rivers and lakes of Aotearoa.
"Last year the collective commitment, sacrifice and passion of Coastguard's volunteers ensured that over 6000 people got home safely to their loved ones," says Coastguard New Zealand chief executive Callum Gillespie.
"That's an incredible number of people whose lives would be forever changed if it wasn't for the volunteers of Coastguard," he adds.
Coastguard volunteers can be called out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, any day of the year.