Vicki Pere decided to try volunteering after she was made redundant. Her case manager at CCS Disability Action suggested that she get in touch with Volunteer Hutt. She jumped at the opportunity, seeing it as a way to get out of the house and meet new friends.
She started volunteering at the Red Cross Shop in Petone. At first she was tagging and steaming clothes, but as her confidence grew, she wanted to work more behind the till. Once she was trained on the register and with the EFTPOS machine she never looked back. ‘Since working at the Red Cross, it’s lifted my confidence right up,’ she says.
Katie Terris, manager at Volunteer Hutt recalls a referral she received from Vicki’s case manager: ‘You would be mad not to take on this person. She is the best person you will get.’ It’s exactly this sort of positive impression that Vicki leaves with everyone she meets. She attributes it to volunteering. ‘Before the Red Cross, I was often upset and I didn’t know what to do with myself. It’s just changed my life. It helped me believe in myself.’
With her new-found confidence, Vicki started a determined job search. ‘It was hard but I kept trying,’ she says.
Eventually she found and responded to a job ad and successfully completed an interview with Ropata Village. Vicki services the apartments there part-time and loves it. She says it’s volunteering that gave her the confidence to seek paid employment.
‘Some people want to get out there and work but don’t have the opportunity. Volunteering is a great opportunity if you do it – to realise your own ability.’
Vicki says her life is much better since taking that first step toward volunteering. She now has a partner, and is full of aspirations. Among other things, she wants to travel, and to help out with the Special Olympics. ‘It’s just to get out there and prove to yourself that you can do it, to be positive, not negative.’
For Vicki, volunteering was the starting point for a life changing experience.