In late 2020, I formally joined the Board of Top of the South Neighbourhood Support (TSNS), an organisation dedicated to creating safe, resilient, and connected communities.
My own background includes 10 years with Volunteer Marlborough and, previous to that, work as a legal secretary, retail worker, and parent. I have volunteered my time for PTAs, the boards of both Literacy Marlborough and Foster Hope, the Girl Guides, and more. I am also completing a degree in Library and Information Studies.
I wouldn't say that I was bored, but I was beginning to get the urge to do something else outside of my normal Monday to Friday job and volunteer my time with a different organisation that was, hopefully, more engaged in front line services.
This is when I came across TSNS who, having recently merged the separate branches of Marlborough, Nelson, and Waimea were now looking for new Trustees with skills like my own. There are more than 6000 households as members and TSNS works alongside NZ Police, Civil Defence, Fire and Emergency NZ, and Age Concern to equip neighbourhoods to improve safety, be prepared for emergencies, and support each other so that our communities are great places to live. Their whole purpose interested me so I made contact, applied, interviewed, and was subsequently invited to join the board.
So how have I found it so far?
Well, it's an experience that I have found both challenging and incredibly rewarding. Joining a board is a serious matter. In order to carry out the duties required of a board member, you need to be sure you can commit the time required. You also need to make sure that you fully understand the role and the legal obligations that come along with its, both from a governance perspective and the fiduciary responsibilities that you hold for the organisation.
Serving on a board is also a great privilege and, for me, has been an extremely positive experience. I have enjoyed getting to know another organisation in a more in-depth way and having the chance to actively support the operational team in the implementation of the programmes and services that TSNS provides.
Personally, I also consider it to be an outstanding learning opportunity. I'm in a position where I'm working closely with a group of other people, from very different backgrounds and professions, with different skillsets than my own, but we are all there to achieve a common purpose. As well as being a valuable learning experience, it has also been a meaningful one so far. Having the chance to volunteer my skills, experience, knowledge, and time to an organisation like this, and support its long-term development is something that I am delighted to be a part of.
I know that there is a perception that you need to be a certain age, or have a certain skillset in order to be eligible to join a board but, in my experience, this is simply not the case. Diversity on boards has been proven to contribute to strong and more ethical organisational governance. Having a mix of ages, genders, professions, and ranges of experience brings a wealth of expertise to an organisation and to the board table so don't let perceptions like this intimidate you and prevent you from applying. As long as you have the time, enthusiassm, and commitment to carrying out your duties, there is no reason why both you and an organisation can't reap the benefits.
If you'd like to investigate some of the board roles available in Marlborough right now, check out the listings HERE