The Volunteer of the Month Award for September 2023 was awarded to Mike Garrett.
Mike is a much loved volunteer at Ashwood Park Rest Home & Retirement Village where he is not only a member of the Chaplaincy team but also leads the men's woodworking club in the Resthome and Oaks areas each week, helping to motivate the men which has resulted in a marked improvement of the moods of many of the male residents. They often have a wee get together and have recently completed making cheeseboards, doll cradles, and bird houses. Mike always makes sure to ask the residents their opinion on things, have a good conversation, and makes plans with them. He will also visit with people, accompany them on walks or for morning tea, play the guitar, sit and talk, offer prayer services, and generally be there for them and their families, particularly during difficult times.
When our team met with Mike, onsite at Ashwood Park, it was immediately clear that he is well respected, valued, and loved by the staff and residents alike. Levane Palaro (Volunteer Coordinator) says that "loneliness and boredom can cause depression but, because of Mike, our men's lives have changed. He really motivates our residents, spending time with them Monday to Thursday, chatting with them individually and in groups."
Mike tells us that he really loves to talk to people but also enjoys just sitting and listening to their stories because "everyone can teach somebody something". He got into this particular kind of volunteer role after having had some personal experience on the other side of things where someone cared enough to take the time with him. This impacted him greatly and he felt it was important to "give back what was given". Mike really feels that Ashwood Park is a home, a good place, with no negatives. "Even during Covid times, we all knew that everything that was put in place was for our protection and that of the residents because the health and safety of everyone is paramount", says Mike.
We asked Mike what he would say to someone who is starting volunteering: "It's a calling, not a job. It's a calling on your heart. I wouldn't give it up for anything".
Mike told us that there are times when things get to him or affect him, but he and the others work through things together. Everyone is there for each other and the Chaplaincy Team is well supported by the various churches in the community, with extra support coming from the "wonderful staff" at Ashwood Park.
A final comment from Levane - "Mike goes above and beyond the call of duty and he has a positive attitude. He is so very friendly to everyone here at Ashwood Park and we are privileged to have someone like Mike here".
Thank you, Mike, for everything that you are doing for the residents of Ashwood Park. You are a real asset to the Marlborough community!
(Mike is pictured with three residents of Ashwood Park. Left to right: Red Reeves, Elaine Willis, Mike Garrett, Noel Simmons)
Thank you to New World Blenheim for sponsoring our Volunteer of the Month Award.