‘Overwhelming’ is how Volunteering Canterbury’s Outreach and Marketing Manager describes the response to a call for nominations for this year’s Volunteer Recognition Awards.  “Canterbury’s heart is pumping strongly; Cantabrians just keep on giving” Martin says as she looks through the recipients’ list.  The Awards will be presented at 2pm on Monday 19th June 2017 at Christchurch’s Civic Offices.  A Kapahaka Cultural Group from Haeata Community Campus will set the scene for what will be a celebration of recognition for volunteering in general, and in particular for the 21 individuals and three groups receiving the awards.  When invited to present the Awards, TV News Anchor, Mike McRoberts, responded that the event is ‘a great community initiative and well worth supporting’.   “Many people will have seen Mike in the news recently when he completed a personal best in the Christchurch Marathon” Martin says.  “What they may not know is that in 2003 he ran the New York Marathon, as part of a volunteer team supporting kiwi runners with disabilities.  That’s commitment!”

Volunteers are a vital part of New Zealand culture, the very heart of our communities, and Volunteering Canterbury believes it is essential to take time out to celebrate the everyday unseen stories of volunteering along with its day to day activities which support an inclusive volunteer culture and equip local community organisations with tools for volunteer management.  As well as recruitment and recognition, Volunteering Canterbury hosts regular networking and training opportunities for its 270 member organisations and works with groups, including businesses, to find one-off projects and with individuals to find ‘skill matched’ roles.

“As a community”, Martin says, “Cantabrians come through in the good times as well as the bad.”  Last year volunteers for Volunteering Canterbury’s member organisations gifted 306,911 hours to the community – with an estimated monetary value for the region of $4.7m.  “For us”, Martin says, “why we at Volunteering Canterbury are passionate about what we do every day, it’s the impact.  The impact of volunteering, the differences that are made.”  Last year 36,000 Cantabrians were impacted by a voluntary gift of time.  “It’s certainly something to celebrate”, she added.

Volunteers are the backbone of a society that cares for its own.  “We’re ecstatic” says Dave Adams of Volunteering New Zealand “to see so many organisations taking part in this year’s National Volunteer Week to celebrate the 1.2 million kiwis who volunteer their time for good.”