The Volunteer of the Month for November 2023 was awarded to Anne Knight.
The Tōtara Club is one of the many shining lights of the programmes provides as part of Enliven - Presbyterian Support Upper South Island. The Tōtara Club supports people in the community who are over the age of 65, live independently but who may be socially isolated. Those who go along to Tōtara Club tend to attend weekly, giving them an opportunity to meet with friends, keep active, share a home cooked meal, and is often described by attendees as "the highlight of the week" and "not to be missed".
Anne Knight is one of the volunteers involved with the club, dedicating 30-40 hours per month of her time, and sharing her kind and caring nature with all who come along. Anne worked as a cook at Tōtara and, upon her retirement 12 years ago, she began volunteering more in the programme. Providing support in all aspects of the programme, Anne can be found helping out on the transport van, serving morning and afternoon tea, participating in group activities like word or card games or even physical activities, as well as chatting to and generally supporting clients.
The Tōtara Club "creates a safe, social environment", says Anne. "If people give it a go, it does help the community and helps people to keep social, interact with others, and make friends"
When looking around the room, it clear that the Tōtara Club is a friendly and supportive place where their values are upheld by all those who volunteer and attend the programme. Anne is known for living the values of the organisation including aroha, whakawhanaungatanga, and kaitiakitanga. She is respectful, compassionate, and accepting of all the clients who come through their doors, has strong connections with the community which she uses to support clients, and she strives to uphold the mana of each and every client.
"I love listening to their stories, they're amazing," Anne told us. "The other day we had the chance to do biographies and it was fascinating!"
The staff at Enliven speak very highly of Anne and her many qualities as both a person and a volunteer. Over and above her genuineness in all her interactions with people, she takes the time to get to know people one-on-one to provide the best support she can. Marlborough Team Leader, Tricia Dawson, told us "Anne is always willing to embrace new ideas and technology. Recently I saw her sitting with a group of clients, using YouTube through the big screen SmartTV to watch presentations about efficient heating in the home after a Health Navigator from Te Whatu Ora had visited to do a presentation."
Aside from her time with Tōtara, Anne dedicates a lot of her time to service within the community. She is an active member of one of the local Lions Clubs, and a member of her church. She also enjoys gardening, reading, exercise classes or riding her bike, lunch with friends, and spending time with her dogs.
When we asked Anne why she started volunteering and what she might say to someone who was thinking about starting their volunteer journey, she didn't even hesitate - "I do it out of selfishness. It keeps me social and it keeps me sane! There's a place out there for everyone. Without volunteers, many places wouldn't survive".
Thank you, Anne, for everything that you in Marlborough, and for the caring and dedication that you show to the clients of the Tōtara Club. You are a valued member of this community!
(Anne is pictured with the Coordinator of Volunteer Services at Volunteer Marlborough, Julie Cadwallender)
Keen to give volunteering a go? Curious about where you can share you existing skills and experience, or build new ones? Get in touch with our team at Volunteer Marlborough on 03-577-9388, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website.
Thank you to New World Blenheim for sponsoring our Volunteer of the Month Award.