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Hard-working volunteers provide vital help at Pakuranga Park

Real Living retirement villages wouldn’t run so smoothly without the invaluable help of our resident volunteers. From participating in the Residents Committee to helping people who cannot drive anymore, Pakuranga Park volunteers provide vital assistance to their neighbours.

Gillian is one of these residents who goes above and beyond to provide a fundamental service at the village. She collects all the unwanted items at the village, sorts them out and then takes them to the local Hospice depot. Sometimes when the Hospice is full she drives to the local Opportunity shops such as the Salvation Army, St John’s Op shops, the SPCA and the Cancer Society.

During the Level 4 lockdown the Opportunity Shops remained closed, and Gillian had a garage full of unwanted items.

There’s a quote that says, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart”. Vanessa is the perfect example of that, even if she works part-time, she still finds time to volunteer at Pakuranga Park. Vanessa runs the Village Volunteers Support Group at Pakuranga Park. The residents who cannot drive anymore will ring her when they need to get to an important appointment such a doctor’s visit. “I love helping people”, Vanessa says. “I’m one of 11 siblings. I’m not the middle one but I’m one below the middle, so I have one foot in the older camp and one in the younger camp. I was always there to help my sisters and now they’re there for me as well.”

Vanessa is talking to Pakuranga Park Activities Coordinator Chris Bull about all the different activities planned at the village for December.

Vanessa is also a member of Howick’s Croquet Club, so she helped introducing this sport to the village. She not only sorted out the equipment and shared the rules and regulations of the game, but she’s also been coaching the new members. Croquet has become one of the most popular activities at Pakuranga Park.

Thanks to Croquet, residents do some exercise while socializing at the spacious bowling green in the centre of the village.

Mike and Marilynn are two of the most known faces at Pakuranga Park. They run the monthly Quiz, one of the most liked social activities at the village. Marilyn writes the questions and Mike is the Master of Ceremonies – they do such a good job that the Quiz has reached almost 100 participants.

Mike and Marilynn (and their lovely dog, Shadow) are two of the most involved residents in Pakuranga Park.

Mike and Marilynn are very involved in the village life, with Mike being a member of the Residents Committee and Marilynn a member of the Social Committee. But they’re also a very active part of the community outside of the village. For the last ten years they’ve been participating in the Meals on Wheels programme, a service provided by the Red Cross. Mike and Marilynn help delivering healthy meals prepared at Middlemore Hospital to people in need around their area. “Some of those people don’t see anybody else in a whole week, they love having somebody to talk to” says Marilynn. Mike adds “It’s the high spot of their day, you can see that they’ve been waiting to talk to you.”

New Zealand Red Cross volunteers deliver around 620,000 hot meals a year - that's nearly 12,000 every week. (Photo Credit: NZ Red Cross)

Mike and Marilynn have a long “career” in volunteering. They also participate in St John’s Caring Caller, calling people who are lonely once a week. Some of their volunteer roles have been very exciting, for example when they were involved in Crime Stoppers, an independent charity that helps New Zealanders to fight crime by providing an anonymous and simple way to pass on information to the police. Mike and Marilynn used to drive around in a police marked car to deter crime and report any suspicious activity they saw.

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