Community House Whanganui manager Shelley Loader has worked for the organisation for the past seven years. Born and raised in Whanganui, she studied psychology and sociology at Massey University in Palmerston North. Loader took the time to answer 10 quickfire questions from Mike Tweed, just before tucking into an alert level 4 delivery from Fitzies Bakery.
What is your favourite thing to do in Whanganui?
Walking around Virginia Lake. I do it daily. I used to walk around there with my family when I was a kid, and when we moved back I took my son around when he was young too. Now I do it for myself, and it restores my soul. I'm very busy so that's my only time out.
What is Whanganui's best kept secret?
One is the berry icecreams at Windermere Gardens. I got my son an icecream maker for Christmas and we make our own with yoghurt and the frozen berries from Windermere. It's so good, especially during lockdown. The other one is the Saturday morning markets by the [Whanganui] river. It's such a good display of our local talent - art, craft, food and musicians.
What does your current role at Community House involve?
There's managing the Community House building and the tenant organisations, as well as managing the Community House office. We provide services to community organisations. Then there's managing the conferencing facilities, and often we're the first port of call for general inquiries, and when members of the public want assistance.
We also manage the database of all the local and regional community organisations. Through that we are able to direct people to the appropriate place when they require that assistance. There's a whole lot of other things as well. It's a big job, that's why I'm always busy.
Which event from history would you most liked to have been at? And why?
I would have liked to have been there when women got the vote. I'm a bit of a "everybody should be treated equal-ist", and I think that would have been a really cool thing to be part of. It's something we should be proud of.
How would you like to see Whanganui in 50 years?
One thing is staying sustainable, which Whanganui is already pretty big on. We are the perfect size - it's big enough to have everything, but it's small enough to still have that "small town" feel to it. I would like to see a continuation of that, where people still say hello in the street and be kind, and you can still get a park outside where you want.
There are lots of things to be proud of in Whanganui, and a lot of it is to do with our spaces - our parks and our beach and our river. I don't want to stop progress, but we should bear that in mind, and keep it beautiful for future generations.
What's the best advice someone has given you?
To live in the present. Don't beat yourself up for the past, and don't worry about the future. I beat myself up a lot, and I'm a perfectionist so I worry about things that really aren't relevant. That's why you need to cut yourself some slack.
You can invite three people from history to dinner. Who would they be and why?
There are three people in my house, so we've each chosen one. My son has chosen Christiano Ronaldo, because he loves soccer. Soccer is life. Pat is having Princess Diana, because she wants to get all the gory details about what went down with her. There's been a bit of The Crown on Netflix lately.
For me, I've gone with Madonna. She's going to sing Like A Prayer for me, which is my all-time favourite song. It's also going to played at my funeral, and everybody has to stand and raise their hands.
I almost invited Morgan Freeman too, I love his voice. Madonna trumped him, though.
What is one thing you'd like to improve in Whanganui?
Obviously, that would be the homeless situation. I would like everybody to have equal opportunity, and I think people make a lot of assumptions about those who are homeless, like they've made choices.
Often, if you delve into it and talk to homeless people, they haven't actually had choices. They haven't been brought into families that value education, or they've grown up with family harm or addiction in their family.
I would like to see less greed and more opportunities for everybody. There's plenty for everyone.
If you hadn't pursued a career at Community House, what would you be doing instead?
I think I'd be doing what I studied - counselling or social work. I do like to help people, and I'm known as a soft touch. I have difficulty saying no. It doesn't matter how busy I am, I'll squeeze it in. There's a saying, if you want something done you ask a busy person.
Who is someone locally that inspires you?
This is an easy one. It would be my mum, Doreen Loader. She's really intelligent and kind, and she always puts others first. She's the first person I go to with anything and everything.