Leaving with a bang, not a fizz
It was a big surprise for Gisborne Barnardos service manager Dianne Saunders this morning when a flash mob of singers turned up to sing her farewell.
At 9am, her social service colleagues snuck in off Railway Lane to Barnardos' backyard to say goodbye and thank you to Mrs Saunders, who retired today after 21 years.
“We love the contribution you've made to us all, and to your community,” said Tauawhi Men's Centre co-ordinator Tim Marshall.
“And we knew we couldn't have a big hoolie with Level 2 restrictions so we've got two socially-distanced groups of 10 here.”
A koha of love and appreciation amounted to an $800 gift to Mrs Saunders, to choose what she wanted, he said.
Lockdown had derailed her retirement plans, said Mrs Saunders in an off-the-cuff speech.
Wearing a crown she had been given by her staff, an emotional Mrs Saunders said she had not expected to see anyone today.
While she had hoped to go out with a bang, she felt the alert levels had reduced her retirement day to a fizz.
“But you all brought the ‘bang' back today,” she told the people who sang to her.
“It's a strange thing to be leaving after such a long time.
“Having you all here is just amazing. I'm not going anywhere, so you will see me around.”
A post-retirement party later in the year could be on the cards, she said.
Mrs Saunders recounted how 21 years ago she started in the little house on Ormond Road that was Barnardos' base. On the phone one day, she looked out the window at the house next door, then a series of flats.
Barnardos needed more space, so she called the owner of the property.
“As happens in Gisborne, I went to school with them.”
Barnardos did not usually acquire property but they agreed to buy the house, took down the fence between the two properties and created a big backyard for children to play in.
Mrs Saunders said they ended up spending more on renovations than buying the house. But the purpose-built facility on Ormond Road with a co-joined backyard turned out to be perfect for Gisborne Barnardos and the children they helped.
“It just goes to show that sometimes from knocking on doors you can make a difference.
“The staff in this Barnardos office are the most amazing, dedicated and caring people in the world, and our community is lucky to have all of you too,” said Mrs Saunders.
Kia ora Di, it's with a sigh,
We gather at your mahi, here to say goodbye.
The time is right, you've fought the fight,
Creating futures for our whanau that are bright.
TAIN, Peace Out East and Manaaki
Those late night callouts, to support rangatahi
You've kept the faith, stayed staunch and true
And so three words that we would like to say to you....
We just called to say we love you...
We just called to say how much we care
We just called to say we love you
And we mean it from the bottom of our hearts.