Giving back makes you feel good and it can also be fun, exciting, weird or down right nerve wracking – you really can take your pick!
Youth disability provider Recreate NZ volunteers get involved as buddies or mentors to help young people do everything from enjoying relaxed weekend getaways to adventure camps.
“Abseiling at Rotorua was a pretty exciting activity that a number of volunteers were paid to do last year to support Recreate kids. It was high energy and fun,” says Recreate programme coordinator Alex Krofcheck.
If you’re after an adrenalin rush, Coastguard is another organisation offering plenty of excitement.
“Talking to people on a sinking boat and asking them for information and arranging a rescue is pretty exciting and scary,” says Nico from Coastguard.
He hastens to add that you’re never on your own in this situation, and you’re given six weeks training and always have highly experienced people at the end of your communication device.
Coastguard volunteers are found on boats, planes and in the communications room, opportunities for everyone.
A more sedentary option is offered at NZ Aids Foundation. Sitting around a large table with your peers making up condom and lube packs is not a difficult way to spend Wednesday afternoons, says Max Tweedie from NZ Aids Foundation.
“Every Wednesday we put together three to five thousand! And we have fun.”
Playing dress ups to help with the Auckland Pride Parade and the Big Gay Out are other ways volunteers support the Foundation and have fun.
And for those that would rather stay in the city, ATEED offers heaps of interesting volunteer opportunities across the four cultural festivals they run every year. Events production co-ordinator for Pasifika says two volunteers met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Pasifika this year because they were in charge of providing umbrellas and water bottles to dignitaries.
Volunteers are also found backstage helping performers onto the right stage, directing visitors through traffic and crowds - even doing karaoke at the Lantern Festival to encourage others to participate.
Eco-Matters New Zealand is doing things a little differently with their trusty tribe of volunteers. Sarah James, Visitors Centre and Education Coordinator came along to the AUT Volunteers Expo to share their diverse range of opportunities on offer including weekly edible garden sessions, native plant nursery and the bike hub. Eco-Matters “connect people and place; to nurture kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and help restore the mauri (life force) of our environment”.
Conservation Volunteers gives you the opportunity to get outdoors and explore New Zealand’s beauty with a range of volunteering roles across Auckland and beyond. If you are looking for an ongoing role, Conservation Volunteers runs “Connecting People with Parks”, a weekly program which takes you through tasks and learn about native species of fauna, flora and conservation.
Other volunteer opportunities include Girl Guiding NZ looking for young women to run ICT classes and Laura Fergusson Rehabilitation Trust needing volunteers for activities. AUTSA is always looking for volunteers to help with activities on campus, such as being part of orientation, participate in events such as clothes swap and help with distributing Debate.
And there are many more activities, including sorting clothes for charity op shops and standing on street corners or at stands with donation buckets.
As of end of March, over 14,660 hours of volunteering had been logged by AUT Edge Award students. You guys are offering an extraordinary amount of support and help to your communities.
And volunteering organisations are recognising this – 18 organisations turned up to a Volunteering Expo at AUT last Tuesday (April 10) and signed up a large number of new student volunteers.
So why come along to events like these?
"As an international student, I didn't know anybody when I started at AUT at the beginning of the year. Volunteering gives me exposure to meeting different people and learn more about the New Zealand culture. I came to the Volunteer Expo to learn more about the different organisations and where I can volunteer", says AUT student Akharia.
We encourage volunteering (Edge Award requires you to do 50 hours of volunteering) because it helps to build your skills (communication, team work, problem solving, resilience) and your networks. Who knows who you might be volunteering next to while cleaning up a beach or making lunches at a hideous hour in the morning. It also improves your CV (NZ work experience or more variety of experiences).