Volunteering is not for everybody, but it is for Wendell Hart. Wendell is Volunteer of the Month and, for his trouble, was given a certificate, a badge and a $40 voucher, the latter courtesy of Mud Ducks. He was nominated by Citizens Advice Bureau [CAB] where he spends a lot of his volunteering time.
He's also a life member of the Wanganui Contract Bridge Club.
"I do the cleaning of the club, do the bar, recycle all the stuff …" and he gets a few hands of competitive bridge in and often goes away on tournaments.
Wendell worked for 45 years in administration in the prison service, starting at Waikune Prison in National Park when he was 17. After a trip overseas he returned in 1974 and worked at Waikeria Prison for a year, then returned to Waikune Prison "in the top job".
"A year later I came down here when they opened the new one at Kaitoke. I finished my career out there, then retired. I then thought, what can I do?"
It was one of his former colleagues who suggested he join her and the team at Citizens' Advice.
"So that's how I got into it."
Wendell is one of those people who needs to be busy, he needs things to do.
"That's why I get involved."
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First, at CAB there was a learning process to go through before going into the office as a 'third' person.
"There are always two on duty together."
After further training the 'third' person becomes one of the two volunteers on duty.
Wendell says the enquiries they get cover all range of subjects, from the time of the next high tide in Waverley to complex rent, consumer and relationship issues.
"It can be anything at all.
"Most of our work comes from phone calls, but we do get walk-ins as well."
Every interaction is recorded, documented and sent to HQ in Wellington. He says sometimes people just need a listening ear.
"I work with nice people. But I often think that people who give their time and volunteer like that … they are nice people."
He says he enjoys the social aspect of volunteering at CAB.
But CAB is not all Wendell does.
"When I retired 10 years ago I went to Age Concern – the person who got me into CAB got me into Age Concern, because she worked there as well."
He got on to the board and became chair for about four years. Michelle Malcolm, Age Concern manager, is giving a talk at CAB's Learning and Development meeting at the end of this month.
Wendell also teams up with his sister, Fay Turner, to deliver Meals on Wheels. He drives, she delivers. The meals are picked up from the hospital in polystyrene containers and delivered personally to the recipients, some of whom relish the company as well as the service.
"We can have up to 12 or 13 places to go to."
Wendell says it all takes up time, but since retirement, he has time.
"I know there are people in town who do a lot more than I do.
"None of us knows what's around the corner, so enjoy the time while we're here and make yourself useful."