At the end of August TOP 10 Holiday Parks Group members converged on Christchurch for their national conference. The opportunity for members of the holiday park sector, which provides 36% of New Zealand’s commercial accommodation capacity and 20% of commercial guest nights, to connect with others in the sector from different regions is invaluable. Holiday park guests contribute over $1b in direct expenditure to local communities, with a mix of 60% from domestic travellers and 40% from international guests.
The sector’s contribution to its regions joins together to be a significant contribution to NZ’s GNP. It is local communities, though, where it starts. ‘And given what Christchurch has been through’ David Ovendale, TOP 10 Holiday Parks Group CEO said ‘we decided that at this Conference we would partner with Volunteering Canterbury to enable our conference participants to make a contribution to the Christchurch community’. The challenge for Volunteering Canterbury’s Outreach and Marketing Manager, Glenda Martin, was to identify charities which would be able to provide a worthwhile volunteering experience in a short time span and with the logistics of travel and challenges of weather factored in. ‘Accommodating a group of volunteers, in addition to its normal day to day activities, requires a commitment from the charity which will need to plan for the visit and the project to be undertaken, and provide appropriate briefings and supervision while the group is on site’, Martin said. ‘In this case, TOP 10 Holiday Parks were keen to show off what charities were doing in the city, in a business as usual manner, following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and the participants began their community experience with a stop and briefing in the Red Zone’. Following that there were drop offs at St Vincent de Paul’s eastern Op Shop, the central city Curtain Bank, the Delta Trust which provides support for disadvantaged and low income residents on the east of Christchurch, a central Christchurch Red Cross Opportunity Shop, Creative Junk which provides an affordable and extensive range of recycled and natural materials which have been collected from industry and community to promote creative and imaginative play, and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore which supports that organisation’s building projects, most recently completing the build of 21 homes on the east side of Christchurch for families identified as having been displaced as a result of the quakes and whose members’ health was being adversely affected by the condition of the inadequate accommodation which they then found themselves living in.
‘The volunteers were enthusiastic, down-to-earth, and interested in the work that we were doing as a community centre. Some expressed a desire to seek out similar services in their own areas when they got home’ Ian Burn, Services Coordinator at Delta Community Trust told Volunteering Canterbury after the event. Linda Olivier from ReStore said ‘They did a tremendous job in putting up the shelves that we desperately needed in our sorting area … but we never seemed to have time to put together. Having a group of 10 people from different parts of the country working so closely together must have been a proper team building exercise that must have tightened the connections between them. We are very grateful for the help given to let us help more people have a decent place to live, thank you’. And Christine from Creative Junk described the help they received as ‘fabulous’.
For Volunteering Canterbury, this was a real celebration with 120 TOP 10 Holiday Parks’ members gifting 140 hours of voluntary labour to six Christchurch charities. Volunteers with Volunteering Canterbury’s 280+ members contribute some 306,911 hours to the community each year, impacting on 36,000 people, and that’s, if applying the minimum wage rate, estimated as a contribution of $4.7m to the local economy. ‘It’s the more the merrier when it comes to volunteer hours’, says Martin. ‘The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week ‘Live Laugh Share – Volunteer’ was very much alive during this TOP 10 Holiday Parks exercise.’
After the volunteer activity, it was back to the hotel where a charity auction was held to raise funds for the charities they had spent time with that afternoon. The charities which had been so grateful for the gifting of time earlier in the day were winners once more, with the charity auction raising $25,000 to be distributed amongst them. The following day the participants held their Annual Awards gala event which saw Russell winning the Supreme award and Top Guest Experience category, while Ohakune achieved the honour of winning the most categories!
Connecting TOP 10 Holiday Parks members from around the country is one win, connecting then with groups working in the community sector, another win. Volunteering Canterbury is delighted to have been part of this project and on behalf of the charities involved, extends its thanks to Dave Ovendale and his awesome team at the TOP 10 Holidays Parks Group.
For more information on how your group can get involved in the community, contact Glenda Martin, Outreach and Marketing Manager, Volunteering Canterbury ph: 366-2442; firstname.lastname@example.org
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