The manager of a Taupō-not-for-profit which provides work for people with disabilities says he was both surprised and grateful to be named a finalist in a nation-wide awards scheme that celebrates young New Zealanders making a difference.
Jordan Griffin, 28, is manager of Thrive Whakapuawai in Runanga St, which works to support vulnerable people to build confidence, skills and capability with pathways into employment.
Last Saturday Jordan and his wife Jasmine were in Wellington for the Impact Awards, a nationwide awards scheme run by Inspiring Stories, a New Zealand charity that supports young New Zealand leaders to tackle big issues.
The Local Impact category of the Impact Awards is for people demonstrating leadership and taking action in their local community. Jordan was one of 10 finalists.
While he didn't win his category, Jordan says it was inspiring to be in a room full of people who saw a need and did something about it instead of sitting back and waiting for someone else to solve it. He says he left inspired and motivated to move Thrive forward and excel.
"There were 400 to 500 people there and they were all involved in doing something for their community, like 15-year-olds starting campaigns in their community, all sorts. It was really good to be in the room with those kinds of people doing something positive, it inspired me so much."
He said he was proud that Taupō was doing its part to make Aotearoa a better place and it was also a chance to gain some national exposure for Thrive.
Adults who come to Thrive are provided with a supportive environment, social connections and the chance to perform meaningful work making products to sell in Thrive's shop in Runanga St, as well as providing services such as lawn mowing and doing laundry.
Being able to work boosts the adults' self-confidence and self-esteem and teaches them useful skills that they can potentially use to find employment in the paid workforce.
Thrive is heavily supported by ADDI, a Taupō educational charitable trust, which pays the staff salaries but the ultimate goal is for Thrive to become self-supporting.
Jordan was nominated for the Impact Awards by Taupō business consultant Catie Noble, who had been working with Thrive on its entry for the Great Lake Taupō Business Awards, where it is a finalist in the not for profit section awards.
It was quite by chance that Jordan and the adults at Thrive met Catie. They were holding a sausage sizzle at Mitre 10 in June trying to raise money for a much-needed new van. Catie walked past, bought a sausage, stayed to hear about Thrive and offered to help.
"She got to know how Thrive works and saw the passion and the work that we are doing for our community for these adults and said 'oh man, I'll jump on board', which is so awesome."
Jordan said Catie's assistance with business mentoring since then has been invaluable.
He didn't know Catie was going to nominate him for an Impact Award though, until an email arrived out of the blue congratulating him.
Jordan says he was both surprised and grateful.
"I don't do this job to get recognised but it does feel cool.
"Three years we've been here, learning on the way but we've got people in the community to help us and grow me'."
Thrive has 18 adults on its books and between 10 and 18 attend daily to participate in meaningful work, with the support of staff and around six community volunteers who bring their own skills and gifts.
Work ranges from sewing scrunchies to making fire bricks from paper, splitting kindling to sell or building planter boxes. Thrive has its own laundry and offers a washing, drying and folding service and makes firelighters and wheat bags. Its most recent work stream has come from a partnership with Activated Carbon NZ Ltd where the adults pack activated carbon into hessian bags to be used as air purifiers, odour absorbers and moisture absorbers.
Each adult at Thrive receives help to prepare a CV and to work at each station at Thrive, they must put in an application and do an interview. The aim is to get them familiar with the job seeking process so that when they are ready, and the right opportunity arises, they can move into paid employment, which one Thrive adult has already achieved.
But it's not just about the work. There are intangible benefits too - social connection, a way to contribute, a feeling of worth and of usefulness.
"We are providing a sense of purpose and belonging for adults but also for our volunteers," Jordan says. "There's a group out there that can't get a job but have no experience to add to their CV so Thrive is a place where they can get experience. That's why I love coming to work, to have those success stories."
Jordan says while it may be his name on the finalists' list, it's "everyone else" who is also part of Thrive who is being recognised.
"Everyone that's been a part of Thrive can feel a sense of achievement for being nominated for the awards like this."