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A special role

The 20th anniversary of International Volunteer Managers Day was marked this week with hefty numbers to back up the virtuous volunteers’ hard work.

Statistics New Zealand data shows there are 1,229,054 Kiwis volunteering their time at not-for-profit institutions around the country.

They contribute 157 million hours of volunteer labour each year, bringing around $6 billion to the economy — $9.4b when labour costs are taken into account.

New Zealand volunteers are responsible for 4.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Gisborne Volunteer Centre manager Jenny Greaves says a volunteer manager is a special role. It requires many varied skills and a high level of interpersonal talents to manage teams giving up their time for others.

“The not-for-profit sector is special to work in.

“Most people are here by choice because they care about others and making the community a better place.”

In a city peppered with secondhand shops, one of the newer additions has been the St John Op Shop in Gladstone Road.

Shop manager Wendy Naden said transition into the not-for-profit sector was a breeze.

Having had a lifelong relationship with the organisation through her family, it was a natural fit.

“I had worked in hospitality for 22 years and was looking around on Seek.co.nz for jobs and a manager’s role came up at St. John.”

After some gentle nudging from her family, she decided to apply.

“When I first got into managing volunteers, I really thought it would be the hardest part of the job. But, in fact, everyone is really self-managing.

“Compared with working in hospitality, people let you know weeks, sometimes months, in advance when they need time off, whereas young people in a café just want to go to Rhythm and Vines.

“The hardest part is when they (volunteer workers) go off and get jobs.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer their time can get in touch with Gisborne Volunteer Centre to search a range of roles available.

WELL MANAGED: Celebrating International Volunteer Managers Day are (from left) Sharon Westrupp from 3 Rivers Community Patrol, Michele Rodriguez Ferrere from Gizzy Kai Rescue, Jenny Greaves from Gisborne Volunteer Centre, Wendy Naden from St John Op Shop, Alice Kibble from Tairawhiti Community Voice and Steve Evett (Menzshed/Coffin Club), got together to celebrate International Volunteer Managers Day. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell