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Caps off to volunteers

The atmosphere was “buzzing” last night as Gisborne celebrated its young volunteers at the 2018 Youth Volunteer Awards.

The annual event recognises young people nominated by others in the community.

There are 1358 volunteers on the GVC books, with the biggest group (20 percent) under the age of 20.

Aged between 10 and 25, each of the volunteers contributed between five and 45 hours a month to help others.

More than 100 family and friends were there to support them at the annual event.

Gisborne Volunteer Centre (GVC) chairman Carl Pedersen said this year’s Youth Volunteer Awards were held in the Senior Citizens Hall, ironically a facility built, maintained and used by volunteers over the years.

“This is the legacy of volunteers of that era.”

Mr Pedersen said senior citizens had worked hard to provide the centre as a resource for the community, and it was wonderful to see it used full circle for the upcoming generation of new volunteers.

Guest speaker Arish Naresh moved some of the audience to tears as he shared his personal journey from a child growing up in rural Fiji to where he is today, and the impact volunteering has had on his life.

His speech was “inspirational”, said GVC manager Jenny Greaves.

The other guest speaker was Te Aowera Kupenga-Tiaki, whose mahi aroha (kindness) includes mentoring, tutoring and giving hours of his time to tutor and mentor young people in kapa haka.

‘Volunteers help build a caring community’Young people led the evening too . . . Lytton High School student Lee Devery as an engaging MC, with Campion College student Tom McGregor filming the event and other students helping in the kitchen to prepare food for the guests.

Gisborne District councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown stepped in to present certificates to the young people in place of Labour MP Kiri Allan. Ms Allan sent in a specially-prepared video in her absence.

Mrs Greaves said it was wonderful Mrs Akuhata-Brown was able to be there because she had known so many of the youth volunteers since they were little, which added a special element to the night.

“Volunteers help build a caring community. The theme for Volunteer Awareness Week this year in June is that volunteers are the heart of the community.”

Gisborne Volunteer Centre has more than 1300 people registered on its books and a choice of 216 organisations to choose from. Those aged under 20 make up the biggest age group keen to help their community.

See pages 16 and 17 of today's Gisborne Herald for the profiles of all the young volunteers recognised at the annual event for their contributions to the community.

Last night, 25 young people were acknowledged for their volunteer work at the 2018 Youth Volunteer Awards hosted by the Gisborne Volunteer Centre. Pictured in the group is Gisborne District councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown, who has known many of the volunteers celebrated last night since they were young, through her own youth work. Picture supplied