Rotorua Daily Post:Volunteer week a chance to acknowledge unpaid volunteers in our community

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This week is a chance to acknowledge the people in Rotorua who contribute hours of their spare time for the betterment of a wide range of causes around our community.

It is National Volunteer Week, which gives us a formal opportunity to celebrate volunteers and their vital contributions to local organisations. The theme this year is ‘there is a place for you to volunteer’, which is telling us that, whilst there are thousands of people in the community already undertaking volunteer work, there is always room for more.

Volunteers are the backbone of our communities – contributing invaluable skills, knowledge, and most importantly their free time – as many hold down full time jobs as well.

According to the most recent census data, Rotorua is lucky to have 8,748 people volunteering time and skills here. They help out organisations that do important work like raising funds for child cancer research, mentoring and educating our young people, and environmental and conservation work.

And last week we recognised some of those exceptional people. My congratulations to Cheryl Campbell, Phil Muldoon, Tony Baker, Diana Adlam, and Terry Beckett on receiving community awards in recognition of the fantastic work they do around our community. Rotorua is better off because of their hard work.

Phil has been successfully running the Youth in Emergency Services programme at Lake Okareka, which has now spread around much of Rotorua and the surrounding districts. The five week course encourages young people to volunteer, or pursue a career path in emergency services. The programme won the supreme award at the Rotorua Lakes Community Awards last week, and is a great example of the outstanding work being done voluntarily in our community.

Pitching in and helping out is a cornerstone of New Zealand culture. About a third of all New Zealanders get involved in their communities through volunteering.

This investment of time and effort not only helps our country to function but it makes a significant economic contribution.

And it’s not all one way. Volunteering makes people feel valued through their contribution to our community. The SPCA is one of my causes, and helping out with their annual appeal is a highlight for me. It is a chance to catch up with people I know, get to know people I don’t know, learn more about what is going on in the community – and help a great cause as well. Doing things that really matter has a real feel good factor.

According to the World Giving Index, New Zealand has ranked in the top five of the most charitable countries since 2010. We’re very proud of that.

As your local MP, I would like to thank everyone in the community who donates time and expertise to causes and organisations around Rotorua - you make a real difference.